According to United States Department of Commerce, women fill close to half of all jobs in our country, yet they hold less than 25 percent of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) jobs.
Two Georgia College seniors are taking their STEM education to the next level, going against that statistic and planning to educate future generations on the importance of science education.
Biology major Lauren Pace and chemistry major Melissa Youngs were accepted to the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship STEM Teaching program. The fellowship includes admission to a master's degree program at a well-established partner university, teacher certification in science, mathematics or technology education, extensive preparation for teaching in a high-needs school for one full year before becoming the teacher and a $30,000 stipend.
"One of the great things about this program is the mentoring aspect,” said Pace. “Throughout the program we will be mentored and that continues even when we are full-time teaching. That makes all the difference to me and is a main reason why I applied for the Fellowship.”
For Pace, the decision to go into teaching was solidified after her experience tutoring through the Learning Center
“As I was applying to graduate schools, I just had an ‘ah-ha’ moment that I wouldn’t be happy unless I was teaching,” said Pace. “I really enjoyed working with freshman through tutoring and working as a supplemental instructor for several courses, and that’s how I decided I should teach high school biology.”
The road to her career was, at times, just as blurry for Youngs.
“When I came to Georgia College, I was planning to go to medical school after I completed my undergraduate degree,” said Youngs. “I worked as a lab assistant and found I really enjoyed helping others grasp the concepts being taught. I also had some great faculty mentors who really showed me different ways to teach and learn.”
With their passions for teaching set in stone, both students agreed one main attraction to the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship was the requirement to work in a high needs school system after completing their graduate program.
“I know people who slipped through the cracks when it comes to STEM education in high school, and because of that they never saw the importance of science,” said Pace. “I’m looking forward to combating that by working to find different ways to reach out to students and show them that these concepts that may seem unattainable can really be met—you pave your own way.”
“It’s the challenge of working with limited resources to meet the needs of each student that’s really exciting for me,” said Youngs. “Because of where we’ll be teaching, we will really get to experiment to try to do all we can to get them to understand the importance of science and how it can be used in a career.”
The two will be attending Columbus State University for the Master of Arts in Teaching, and their program begins in May 2015.
After the one-year program, they will work in a high-needs school, teaching their respective subjects at the high school level.
“It’s the perfect fit—I look forward to helping kids build their confidence through learning,” said Youngs.
For more information on the Woodrow Wilson Georgia Teaching Fellowship, visit http://woodrow.org/fellowships/ww-teaching-fellowships/georgia/.