Group honors local high school students for STEM work

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The American Association of University Women Walla Walla Branch honored 11 area senior high school students for their work in science, technology and mathematics.

The young women were honored during a ceremony April 29 in the Walla Walla Regional Airport Conference Room. Leena Knight, an assistant professor of biology at Whitman College, spoke about her educational experiences and encouraged the scholars to investigate STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) courses during college and find mentors who believe in them.

High schools in the branch area include Walla Walla, Lincoln, Prescott, Touchet and DeSales and Walla Walla Valley Academy. Honorees were Hannah Leahy, Christal Hall, Alyssa James, Claire Conley, Camille Elmenhurst, Elizabeth Ruthven, Felicia Martinez, Jhoselin Bolanos, Cami Christy, Mckenzie Loney, Chelsea Dowty, Melisa Creek, Lupita Guadalupe Rodriguez, Shelby Gould, Katelyn Huesby, Elizabeth Litts, Hannah Hampson, Lilymarie McKeirnan and Madeline Brooks.

Leena talked about the struggle women face in STEM. A 2011 study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education reported that just 12 percent of women who graduate have a bachelor’s in STEM and the attrition rate is extremely high for women working in these fields. Only 5 percent of women stay after two years in their career field, and only 3 percent remain in STEM fields after 10 years.

Cecile Ervin, AAUW co-president, thanked the families and inspirational teachers for supporting the young scholars as they pursued their education. More than 80 people attended the event and packed the conference room.

“The Walla Walla Branch of AAUW is a strong organization dedicated to supporting women and their education,” Cecile said.

The annual Kitchen Tour and Book Sale fundraisers help provide sources of revenue for branch scholarships and activities.

AAUW was founded in 1881 to promote education and equity for women.

Chartered in 1921, the Walla Walla Branch currently has more than 135 members who hold a two-year degree or higher from an accredited college or university.

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