AAUW bestows scholarships on 11

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WALLA WALLA — The local branch of the American Association of University Women recognized 11 high school seniors as outstanding scholars in science, mathematics, engineering and technology education.

During a reception held April 29 at the Walla Walla Public Schools board room, the association recognized the following girls as 2013 AAUW High School Scholars:

  • Cheyenne Schoen and Alison Zander from DeSales High School.
  • Esther Gow-Lee and Sarah Thompson from Walla Walla Valley Academy.
  • Vanessa Flores from Prescott High School.
  • Kayla Gutierrez and Kristen Warner from Touchet High School.
  • Eternity Biegel from Lincoln High School.
  • Ashley Cornia, Jaslyn LaCome and Kristina Savelesky from Walla Walla High School.

The students each received a certificate and a $30 gift certificate to Earthlight Books.

The recognition night is meant to celebrate the girls’ academic potential in areas of STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — where girls are often underrepresented in college and careers, said Michelle Higgins, chair of the AAUW Scholar Recognition event.

The evening reception featured Moira Gresham as keynote speaker. Gresham, a physics professor at Whitman College, is doing research on the fundamentals of the universe.

Gresham said that as a high school student, she enjoyed mathematics and science, but didn’t really know where those interests could take her. She considered engineering as a potential career, and studied sciences in college. While a student at Reed College she realized she could become a physicist, and encouraged the young scholars in the room to keep their minds open in college and beyond.

“Keep an open mind about what you find interesting and (as) possible career paths,” she said.

Gresham went on to study particle physics, and conducts research in the field when not teaching at Whitman. Her keynote included mentions of friends, young women who have gone on to careers in the sciences.

She reminded the young scholars that they can accomplish anything with dedication. “Work hard, follow your passions and you can do it,” she said.

AAUW branch president Jenny Romine spoke about the organization’s origins, as educated women coming together at the turn of the 20th century to prove that they were as capable as men, at a time when women were regarded as “feeble-minded.”

“They set out to prove that this was not true,” Romine said.

Maria Gonzalez can be reached at 509-526-8317 or mariagonzalez@wwub.com.

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