Society for Science & the Public
September 19, 2013
When I was in high school, I was a promising student - passionate about the sciences - who came from very challenging circumstances. My mother was mentally ill and my father had only a fifth grade education. I was the fourth of five children, so they never could have afforded to send me to college, much less help me through the process of applying and choosing. A teacher at my public high school suggested I apply for a summer research scholarship, which I won and completed. Another teacher suggested I enter my work from that experience in what was then the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, which was administered by this nonprofit. I placed in the top ten winners, which came with a four year college scholarship to the school of my choice. Because I won this competition, I was invted to attend schools to which I had and had never applied, all on nearly full scholarship. I graduated from a highly competitive university with degrees in engineering and less than $1000 in college debt, thanks to this nonprofit. I practiced as an engineer for many years and then decided to enter the field of K-12 education in order help other students who come from challenging circumstances change their lives with science education. I earned a Ph.D. in science education and have led several foundation and government funded science and engineering education projects for underserved and disadvantaged K-12 students. I can say with complete confidence that my life would have been quite different if not for the opportunities afforded me by the Westinghouse Science Talent Search and this nonprofit. I work to change the lives of other students because this nonprofit changed mine.
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
Involve the alumni with stories like mine in organized efforts to reach out to underserved and disadvantaged youth.
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