Eight students from Beth Shields Middle School were honored at a special luncheon on April 20 provided by the AAUW, or American Association of University Women, for being recommended by their seventh-grade teacher as high achievers excelling in science, technology, engineering and/or math (STEM).
Each girl completed an essay titled “How Math and Science Help our Environment” as part of their application to Tech Trek, a weeklong camp that will be held at Eckerd College June 27 through July 3.
Forty-five girls are chosen for Tech Trek each year by a state selection committee considering more than 200 applicants statewide.
Beth Shields Middle School was proud to announce that two of its applicants, Marisol Neri-Baxcacoy and Elycia Cabili, were selected for this year’s camp, where they will experience demonstrations, lectures and hands-on activities by women prominent in the STEM field.
Principal Tibor Kovacs spoke at the luncheon and presented each student with her AAUW honor certificate, commending them on their persistence and hard work.
“Thank you to all of you,” he said. “This is a huge accomplishment, not just for you but for the Beth Shields School in general. You are serving as an inspiration to your fellow students.”
Kovacs spoke about how difficult essay-writing is for students at this age, especially for an extra project that is not required for school.
“This is a wonderful feather in your cap,” he said “You will all be entering high school soon, and the opportunities for essay-writing and applying for scholarships is only going to grow. Getting this far is a huge step toward your future success, because the competition gets stiffer as you go on.”
The honorees accepted their awards as they enjoyed pizza, cake, beverages, and goody bags provided by the women of the local chapter of AAUW in Sun City Center. The AAUW/SCC branch was responsible for donating $1,000 for each girl who was selected for the Tech Trek camp to cover room, board and seminar costs.
“We are thrilled that our daughter Elycia is being given this opportunity,” said Yvette Cabili. “This is something we as a family could not have provided for her, and we are so pleased she will have this experience.”
AAUW is a national organization that has been empowering females in education since 1881, working to improve the lives of millions of women and their families.
Its programs include analyzing gender equity issues in education and the workplace, and helping to shape the lives of the next generation of women leaders. AAUW strives to level the playing field for girls and women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, traditionally considered to be fields that aren’t particularly “girl friendly.”
AAUW is also one of the world’s largest sources of funding for graduate women, providing more than $3.7 million in funding for more than 244 fellowships and grants to outstanding women and nonprofit organizations in the 2014–2015 academic year.
As women continue to gain access to educational and economic opportunities, they are breaking through barriers that give all women a fair chance.
“We are extremely proud of all of you,” said Diane Waronka, vice president of the AAUW Sun City Center chapter. Waronka, a former school guidance counselor, spoke about the mission of AAUW to help provide educational opportunities for local students.
Last year the SCC branch, which comprises former educators and professionals, donated $500 to the robotics club at Lennard High School in addition to the funds for the annual Tech Trek camp.
Also present at the luncheon were AAUW members Linda Eargle, Kathy Vore, Sandy Dillmuth, Sandy Zeligman and Lois Toeppe.
The SCC branch is welcoming new members, and can be accessed through the national website at www.aauw.org.