STEM seniors setting off

Graduating seniors prepare to enter the STEM field next year in college.

by Elena Clark, Co-Editor-in-Chief

The careful concentration when mixing two chemicals in a beaker. The clang of metal in the auto shop as the robotics team prepares for their upcoming competition. The long pages of math notes and formulas that have been reread and memorized for an upcoming test. These settings are not unfamiliar to Shorewood seniors interested in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field. 

These subject areas require focus and hard work in both math and science classes. At Shorewood, seniors have been involved in both robotics and Science Olympiad which have influenced their decision to pursue a STEM major.

art by Jersey Patterson

Hali Taddei, senior, said math and science material come easier to her than English and the arts. “I love learning about how our world works, and what we can be doing to make it better,” Taddei said. She has been involved in robotics as a member of Team PRONTO, the robotics team that designs robots and takes them to competition. In the fall she will attend the University of Washington with an intended major of chemical engineering.

Kayla Gowey, senior, intends to major in mechanical engineering at California Polytechnic State University. She has also been involved in robotics as a programmer for the team. “I think that being a part of our school’s robotics club or team was a really beneficial experience for me. It allowed me to experiment with doing STEM and working together with people on STEM projects. That really helped me decide that I want to do engineering,” she said.

Senior Xavier Beech, programmer and co-captain of Team PRONTO, said that the team influenced his decision to pursue engineering. “Learning how to work in a team and work collaboratively with other people you may not agree with strategy-wise or on the design of a robot… That really helped me pursue this,” he said. 

Beech has been involved in STEM areas as long as he can remember. “My dad is an engineer too. Part of growing up was learning how things worked: working on cars or computers, that sort of thing,” he added. Beech will be attending the University of Washington’s College of Engineering in the fall.

Senior Jenny Du is also attending the University of Washington with an intended major of biology or chemistry. She gained her interest in science at a young age. “My passion for science is more like watering a seed that I’m unaware of rather than being ignited by a single spark,” she said. “It has developed gradually and intertwined from different activities. My hobbies— volunteering at the medical center, taking care of my fish aquarium, and having internships— gradually built my determination to pursue a career in science.” 

Along with her hobbies and volunteer experience, Du has also been involved in STEM at Shorewood through the Science Olympiad team. The Science Olympiad team is a project based club that participates in competitions and community outreach activities. 

“Throughout these years, I have competed in various local STEM competitions, helped with science outreach, and volunteered in community STEM events. Our team has also won the overall 1st place in the ASCE Popsicle Stick Bridge Competition this year with our bridge named The New Journey,” Du said.

For all four students, clubs at Shorewood have helped steer them to pursue STEM degrees. In the future, Du and Taddei hope to work in or relating to the medical field. “My long-term goals are to be able to provide health care to the minority by creating a clinic with diversity to support patients who cannot speak English,” said Du. 

“I want to use my degree to make new medicines and vaccines, I know that is a bit vague, but I also want to keep my options open,” added Taddei.

Both Gowey and Beech hope to be involved in other areas of science in the future. Gowey hopes to “find ways to help the environment through engineering,” and get involved in environmental research and climate change. “I’m thinking maybe space would be cool. Boeing or Space-X. Maybe NASA or Formula One racing,” said Beech.

Hard work is required for students pursuing science in the future; STEM is not an easy subject area to navigate alone. While it may be difficult, getting involved in clubs or advanced classes can be a start to involvement in STEM.

“STEM can be hard, but there are good resources and teachers who really want to help you at school. They love what they teach, and want to do their best to help you understand it too,” said Taddei.

“An important lesson I always remember is that opportunity will not come to find you but it is you who need to find the opportunity,” added Du. “Applying for outside resources may be competitive, overwhelming, and sometimes it is disappointing, but if you are not reaching for them, your chance will always be zero.”

Overall, STEM can be a hard subject area to get your foot in the door. “If you have something that you want to do, chances are that there’s a way to make that happen, even if it’s not advertised as a possible path you can take,” said Beech, offering some words of advice for Shorewood students considering pursuing STEM.

Gowey added: “Stick with it. If you are passionate about it, stick with it, follow your dreams… Don’t let anybody tear you down because you are worth it. You will succeed, you just have to believe in yourself and try hard.”