Campus program allows high school girls to experience K-State

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A few extra students could be found in K-State classrooms on Tuesday. EXCITE!, a campus program put on by the K-State office for the Advancement of Women in Science and Engineering (KAWSE), brought four Kansas high school girls to campus this week to experience a day at K-State and learn more about science, technology, engineering and math.

KAWSE works to increase the participation, retention and advancement of women in science, technology, engineering and math. EXCITE! is a program for high school students, but KAWSE also has programs for female middle schoolers, undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty.

EXCITE! offers eight shadow days per year. They try to keep their shadowing events smaller to offer more of a one-on-one experience. The largest shadowing day had 72 girls attending. The events are designed to show girls that “not only is college an option, but it is an option for you,” said Chardie Baird, executive director of KAWSE and associate professor of anthropology and social work.

The girls, from Junction City, Topeka and Salina, shadowed a female undergraduate student in the major of their choice, attended classes, spoke to faculty and had a one-on-one lunch with their mentor.

Kathryn Douglass, sophomore in biological systems, is one of the mentors, and is also a facilitator and ambassador for the EXCITE! program.

“My favorite part is having the kids return and seeing their enthusiasm,” Douglass said.

Douglass was once a member of the EXCITE! program, first attending the summer camp after 8th grade. She is still in contact with the professors she met through the program in high school.

Along with this shadow day, EXCITE! also hosts other events during the school year, including Show Me the Scholarships, Ace the ACT, Slam the SAT and a summer workshop.

This summer, KAWSE will hold its EXCITE! summer workshop from June 19-21. Last summer, 51 girls attended the summer workshop, something Yasché Glass, program coordinator for KAWSE, hopes will only improve

“They are looking to increase those numbers,” Glass said. “The programs are really unique compared to other universities because they offer so many opportunities to their attendees.”

Summer workshop topics include climate change, food safety, One Health (a Kansas health program), computer science and engineering.

Girls attending the summer workshop will have the chance to meet with K-State faculty and gain hands on-experience in their field of study, and scholarships are available for those who qualify.

For more information about KAWSE, EXCITE!, or the other programs they offer please contact kawse@ksu.edu.

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