Summer Academy motivates students to pursue careers in STEM


group photo of all high school students who attended the academy

Students included, not in order, Rebecca Allen, Cheyenne Atencio, Jessica Berlinger, Leighton Burt, Jade Cisneros, Troy Fritz, Elaiza Gallegos, Jonatan Garcia, Taru Gouldberg, Syree Gunnels, Monica Leroux, Faleen Lobato, Jose Mix, Michael Mondragon, Tony Ozuna, Cassidy Plane, Lindsay Sandoval, Isaac Segura, and Harley Valdez.

Adams State University hosted the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Academy from June 16 through June 21. Out of the 19 high school students, from 7 San Luis Valley School Districts, 10 were returning participants. The students were on campus all week and stayed in the Coronado Residence Hall.

According to Cindy Bervig, STEM activity director, the participants attended sessions in chemistry, robotics, microbiology, neurobiology, field geology, and field botany, taught by Adams State professors. The students also had the opportunity to visit the Zacheis Planetarium and the Ryan Geological Museum during the week, and they received information regarding STEM careers from special visitors including Marissa Atencio, Francisco Garcia, and Matthew Relyea, Adams State alumnus '04 '06.

The week kicked off with a Gee Whiz session for the participants where they met the Adams State faculty, staff, and students they would be working with all week. The final activity took place Saturday morning where students invited parents and family members to the presentation ceremony. At the ceremony, students showcased their work and received award certificates.

Upper level Adams State STEM majors, Deacon Aspinwal, Brad Sosusco, Sasha Vigil, Julie Jaquez, Stefan Ortega, and Conner Cannon, assisted the faculty and staff as teacher assistants.

Three of the high school students have attended the STEM Academy for three years and seven returned for their second year. Comments written by students on the evaluation forms included: "Best year out of three years I have been with STEM;" "No complaints;" "Genetics is super cool;" and "Thanks for opening so many doors for us."

Marcella Garcia, STEM project director, said the academy is part of the Title V grant outreach. "The purpose of the academy is to inspire students to pursue a STEM career."

The STEM Academy students receive a $500 scholarship to attend Adams State. If they attend the summer before their senior year, they receive a $1000 scholarship to Adams State.