Science, technology, math scholars honored by AAUW


For work in science, technology and mathematics , 11 area female high school scholars received recognition from the American Association of University Women Walla Walla Branch during a late April ceremony in the Walla Walla Public School District Boardroom.

Honored at the reception were Ashley Cornia, Jaslyn Lacome, Kristina Savelesky, Alison Zander, Cheyenne Schoen, Esther Gow-Lee, Vanessa Flores, Eternity Biegel, Sarah Thompson, Kayla Gutierrez and Kristen Warner.

High schools in the Walla Walla branch area include Walla Walla, Lincoln, Prescott and Touchet and DeSales Catholic High School and Walla Walla Valley Academy.

AAUW President Jenny Romine thanked the families and inspirational teachers for supporting the young scholars as they pursue their educations. Sixty people attended the event, packing the boardroom.

Jenny also encouraged them to learn more about AAUW and all of the ways it supports women and scholars.

The Walla Walla Branch is offering multiple $1,800 scholarships this spring to women returning to school to pursue a degree after a one-year or more break.

AAUW’s Scholar Recognition program recognizes outstanding senior female high school students in the areas of science, technology and mathematics, areas where women are traditionally underrepresented, according to a release from Michelle Higgins with AAUW.

AAUW encourages young women to explore these fields, including engineering, as viable options for their future careers.

Moira Gresham, a Whitman College physics professor and researcher, at spoke about her educational experiences and encouraged the students to investigate STEM courses during college and find mentors who believe in them.

Founded in 1881, AAUW promotes education and equity for women. The Walla Walla Branch was chartered in 1921.

Membership is open to men and women who hold a two-year degree or higher from an accredited college or university. The branch currently has more than 135 members.

Eastern Washington Elite Dance Team won the 2013 Hip-Hop Coed World Championships in Orlando, Fla., in late April, said team member Bridget Hernandez of Walla Walla.

The only local member, she trains with the team in Kennewick.

The dance category in which the team won used a mix of various songs, Bridget said. The dancers played criminals and their striped-shirt costumes coordinated with the burglary theme.

Laura Edwards, part of The Monsters of HipHop alumni, choreographed the piece.

The team qualified for its world bid through competition earlier this year in Los Angeles.

“In prelims we were first, so we went last on (April 29) then we beat every team by 3 points placing first in our division for world’s,” Bridget said.

The Walla Walla High School junior also is in the Walla Walla Community College Running Start program. She is the daughter of Javier and Veronica Hernandez.

Once she graduates, she would like to study communications and dance. “I am thinking about auditioning for a performing arts school, if not just audition for a university dance team. But afterward, she wants to pursue dance and entertainment on television.”

The National Science Foundation recently reported that more Whitman College graduates are earning doctorates in science and engineering now than in 2008, according to a release.

Published by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, the report ranks the top 50 colleges by baccalaureate origins of science and engineering doctorate recipients in the U.S.

In it, Whitman ranks 20th among national liberal arts colleges, up from 27th in 2008, and 36th overall, up from 47th.

Whitman graduates received 193 Ph.D.s between 2002 and 2011, a rate of 6.3 doctorates per 100 bachelor’s degrees earned.

This year, three Whitman graduates received NSF Graduate Research Fellowships and two received honorable mentions.

Fellowships provide $45,000 per year for three years of research-based graduate study in the field of science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

Recent recipients of the fellowship are 2012-13 Brandon Fennell, Class of 2011, chemical synthesis, Stanford University; Nat Clarke, 2011, developmental biology, Stanford University; Megan McConville, 2007, environmental chemical systems, University of Wisconsin.

2011-12 Noah Bronstein, 2008, chemistry, University of California, Berkeley; Kathleen Compton, 2008, geosciences, University of Arizona; Emily Davis, 2008, 2008, ecology, University of Washington.

2010-11 Aaron David, 2008, ecology, University of California, Davis; Brandon Nickerson, 2006, wildlife science, Oregon State University.

2009-10 Tamara Carley, 2008, petrology, Vanderbilt University, Bridget Kustin, 2005, cultural anthropology, Johns Hopkins University.

“Our success with NSF graduate fellowships has increased significantly in the past ten years,” said Rachna Sinnott, director of foundation and corporate relations.

“Between 1996 and 2001, only three Whitman graduates received NSF graduate fellowships. Since then, we have had between two and four recipients each year.”

Former Walla Wallan KateMarie Taylor Collins has launched both a new book and new job position.

In addition to publishing a new novel in 2013, she is also adjusting to her promotion as personal assistant to the CEO for Solstice Publishing, the company that issued her books.

Her debut novel, “Daughter of Hauk,” came out first and “Mark of the Successor,” was released Thursday.

Promoted in April, KateMarie is also editor in chief for Solstice’s new paranormal book line, Solstice Shadows.

She is reading submissions, offering contracts for books that fit the company’s needs and lining up editors, proofreaders and cover artists to helping authors make needed changes to their novels, writing up royalty statements, finding new marketing avenues and uploading new books for sale at a variety of ebook distributors.

KateMarie graduated in 1986 from Walla Walla High School, in 1989 from Walla Walla Community College and in 1993 from California State University, Stanislaus, earning degrees in theater. She is the daughter of Walla Wallans Ralph and Jerry Taylor.

She was active in theatrical productions while in Walla Walla. She currently lives in the Seattle area with husband of 17 years Dale Collins, their two daughters, Celine and Savannah, and three cats.

“Daughter of Hauk” came out in ebook format in March 2012 and in paperback that April. The audio version came out in March this year. Its sequel should be released in 2013 too, she said, but “Mark of the Successor” is an entirely different storyline.

“The new book is fantasy, but not nearly as dark as my debut novel was. This one is good for pretty much all ages. I’ve always loved fantasy novels and movies, so it seems natural for me to write for that genre. I’ll let Savannah read this one, and she’s very excited to get the chance. I’ve spoken about writing to her class twice this year and everyone seemed ready to ask for a copy.”

She immerses herself in the writing process, thus, “I’m really glad I took two years of typing back at Wa-Hi. I don’t have to look at the keyboard when I type, and I’m very critical of what I write. If I have my eyes open, I’ll spend 10 minutes trying to decide if a single adverb is the “right” one.

“When I’m in the zone, though, I can close my eyes. The scene I’m working on begins to play in my head like a movie, and my fingers just find the right words. It’s an unusual way to write, but it works for me so I’m not about to mess with it,” she emailed.

“Daughter of Hauk” is available in ebook, paperback and audiobook. “Mark of the Successor” currently in ebook form, should make it to the other formats, too.

For more details, see .

Staff, students and others, more than 100 people altogether, donated 50 units during the Walla Walla High School Key Club-sponsored blood drive.

These units will benefit the American Red Cross. Advisor Shelley Mann said Red Cross representatives were grateful.

Eight Whitman College and Walla Walla University students volunteered in the Prospect Point Elementary School garden helping rototill the soil and clean the site. The event was part of the Tri-College Work Day program.

“This area was established as a functioning garden in 2008 through Seed Grant money from the Department of Ecology,” said Principal Chris Gardea. “It has been inactive the last couple of years but is being revitalized this spring.”

Students will benefit down the road once the garden plantings of pumpkins, peas, kale, tomatoes, peppers, corn, green beans, carrots and squash come to fruition and the sunflowers, marigolds, zinnias and hollyhocks bloom.

It takes a crew to make it happen, Chris said.

“Beth Thiel, our PALS students, Walla Walla High School FFA students and our PTA are assisting with the preparation and clean-up of the grounds at the garden site, and construction of garden boxes,” he said in the school district’s newsletter. “All Prospect Point students in grades K-5 will be involved in plantings later in the spring.”

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at or afternoons at 526-8313.


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