Sixteen young women from local high schools were recognized as students of excellence in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for the 2017 American Association of University Women (AAUW) High School Scholars program.
The Puyallup branch of AAUW, a national organization that promotes equity and education for women and girls, recognized students from Puyallup, Emerald Ridge, Rogers, Sumner, Bonney Lake, Fife, Orting and Chief Leschi high schools at a May 9 ceremony.
The recognition encourages young women to pursue careers in STEM fields.
“We ask head teachers to find girls that are excelling in science and math and those are the girls we recognize,” said Sylvia Hagmann, member of the AAUW Puyallup branch.
We ask head teachers in science and math to find girls that are excelling in science and math and those are the girls we recognize.
Sylvia Hagmann, member of the AAUW Puyallup branch
At the professional level, women are often underrepresented when it comes to careers in STEM. It’s an issue that AAUW focuses on, and is why recognizing women at a young age can give them confidence to carry on in professional STEM fields.
“Hopefully it will get them more active in vital organizations,” Hagmann said.
AAUW reached out to high schools for recommendations on students excelling in science and math. Each high school recommended two girls for recognition.
“(A counselor) asks all teachers to recommend some students, then we sit down as a department (to choose),” said Tanya Troger, a math teacher at Rogers High School.
Each chosen student brought a mentor with them to the recognition ceremony. Troger went with McKenna Roan, a junior at Rogers, who was recognized for excelling in math and wants to study engineering.
“(Troger) was one of the first math teachers that really inspired me,” said Roan, who participates in student government, leadership, plays soccer and works three jobs. “She has so much passion for the subject that she teaches … It makes me want to learn.”
(Troger) was one of the first math teachers that really inspired me. She has so much passion for the subject that she reaches… It makes me want to learn.
McKenna Roan, junior at Rogers High School
Others, like Roan, were inspired by women mentors in their lives to pursue education in STEM.
“She’s one of the few teachers that understands that not all students are math students, so she goes above and beyond,” said Puyallup High School junior Lina Park about her mentor and teacher, Rachal Peart. “In the future I hope to pursue a career in the medical field to develop my interests in math and science.”
“She opened up this whole new world — how cells work, how biology works ... that’s why I’ve chosen to follow a career in biology,” said Puyallup junior Emily Van Bergeyk about PHS teacher Sandra Monaghan, her mentor.
While the students were recognized for their work in STEM, their interests spanned farther.
“When I was in high school, if you were in math and science, you were a math and science nerd,” said Emerald Ridge teacher Mary Davis. “These young ladies do ballet, they do computer coding. I think we have some great opportunities for these young ladies.”
When I was in high school, if you were in math and science, you were a math and science nerd. These young ladies do ballet, they do computer coding. I think we have some great opportunities for these young ladies.
Mary Davis, teacher at Emerald Ridge High School
“These girls rock it. They do wonderful things,” said Bonney Lake High School teacher Chad Johnson. “It’s the ones that push themselves that get somewhere. They’re model students.”
Each of the sixteen students are eligible for a $1,000 AAUW scholarship their senior year of high school to put toward their education.
“We look forward to seeing what these young women will do,” said Sandy Goelzer, AAUW Puyallup branch member. “Their futures look bright, which gives me a lot of hope for our future.”