On June 13, Educational Service District 112 celebrated the third annual STEM Rising Star and Regional Partner Awards at a dinner co-hosted by Washington STEM and Career Connect Southwest (CCSW) at their conference center in Vancouver.
Students, families, educators, and industry partners and staff, along with special guest, Washington State Representative Monica Stonier, came together to honor this year’s nPower Girls participants, 19 STEM Rising Star nominees, and the regional partners who have been working together to provide career-connected learning opportunities for students throughout the Southwest Washington region.
Student participants in this year’s nPower Girls program kicked off the evening’s celebration, sharing how they were inspired to explore STEM-related interests and activities introduced to them through the program. nPower Girls introduced the students to female STEM mentors in the fields of architecture, welding, biology, veterinary medicine, toy design and manufacturing, aviation, electrical engineering, and glass blowing, allowing the women to share their career pathways, successes and learning opportunities on the job, and what they currently loved about their particular careers. This year’s Npower Girls program was a resounding success, with more than 70 girls electing to take part, and a 95% participation rate in all three sessions held at each of the five participating school districts.
The packed agenda went on to recognize the following people for their work to support students across the Southwest Washington region.
Regional Partners of the Year Awards
Educator of the Year Award
Presented to Sydney Murray, Math, Science and STEM Teacher, Grades 6 – 8, Mount Pleasant School, Mount Pleasant School District
Sydney Murray was selected as 2022-23 Educator of the Year for her commitment to bringing high quality STEM and Career Connected Learning experiences to her 6-8 grade students at Mount Pleasant School. Over the last year, Murray worked with CCSW on many projects, including the Mount Pleasant Community Teach In, a Flipped Internship, High School and Beyond Planning, workplace tours, and more.
“Sydney always finds a way to improve upon the rigor and relevance of the projects she presents to her students, and is always on the lookout for opportunities and experiences that are available to her students,” said Chad Mullen, Career Connected Learning and STEM Programs Manager, “Even when that means extra work and planning time.”
Advocate of the Year Award
Presented to Anna Moskal, Elementary School Counselor, South Ridge Elementary School, Ridgefield School District
Anna Moskal was selected as 2022-23 Advocate of the Year by Career Connect Southwest in recognition of the time and passion she invests in career exploration for the youngest students. At South Ridge Elementary School, in her role as the Elementary School Counselor, Moskal provides memorable career exploration experiences that simultaneously connect her students to their own community.
Recently, Moskal and her colleagues pulled off a successful “Careers on Wheels” event, where students got an opportunity to sit in the driver’s seat of a city bus, climb aboard a Coast Guard ship, and peek into the back of a news van. The students interacted with and asked questions of the adults from their community who work in those vehicles, and were able to start imagining themselves in those jobs someday.
“Anna’s organized approach to event planning streamlines everything, so the energy of the group is focused on creating the best possible experience for her lucky students,” Mullen shared. “We’re so happy to celebrate our Advocate of the Year Award winner, Anna Moskal!”
Partner of the Year Award
Presented to Tatum Parsley, Outreach Coordinator and Instructional Tech for Welding and Fabrication, Clark College, Vancouver, WA
Tatum Parsley was selected as 2022-23 Partner of the Year for her impactful work with elementary and middle school students. Parsley is a strong advocate for welding careers and for Clark College, and for women in STEM. Parsley is a key partner in CCSW’s nPower Girls program, and is a believer in the value of career exploration in elementary and middle school.
“She is a natural mentor with the ability to connect on an individual and meaningful level with each and every student,” said Mullen. “She puts her beliefs into action every time she can, and is so well-deserving of this recognition and award.”
STEM Rising Star Awards
The Washington STEM Rising Star Awards highlight the young thinkers, scientists, engineers, inventors, and entrepreneurs who will become the next generation of STEM leaders. The students were nominated for the STEM honor by educators, business leaders, and others in their local communities based on their involvement and passion for STEM academics and activities.
“Reading the nominations for this year’s STEM Rising Stars was truly inspirational,” said Vickei Hrdina, Executive Director of Career Connect Southwest, Career Readiness and STEM Initiatives at ESD 112. “To hear stories about how young women are applying empathy in supporting their friends and solving problems collaboratively is at the core of our values.”
In total, 19 students were nominated from local STEM networks across Southwest Washington. The students were nominated for the STEM honor by educators, business leaders, and others in their local communities based on their involvement and passion for STEM academics and activities.
The awards serve as a way to encourage young women to embrace STEM education and explore the ways it will support their education, career, and personal development.
Nominees were considered based on the following criteria:
- Their participation in STEM activities in or outside of the classroom (robotics, 4-H/ag science club, computer science group, etc.)
- Their development or creation of STEM projects in or outside of the classroom (website development, business ventures, STEM-related art, etc.)
- Their use of STEM as a means of service to their community and/or family (tutoring, volunteering with a STEM-based community program, etc.)
- Their general passion for learning and exploring topics in STEM
Southwest Washington STEM Rising Star Award
Presented to Lilli McCauley, Columbia High School, representing the Gorge STEM Network
STEM Rising Star Southwest Regional Awardees
- Alia Lebovitz, Naselle High School, representing the Columbia River STEM Network
- Lilli McCauley, Columbia High School, representing the Gorge STEM Network
- Samantha Garcia-Hernandez, Vancouver iTech Preparatory, representing the Clark County STEM Network
The three Southwest Washington students were selected as STEM Rising Stars by their local career-connected learning networks.
The regional winner, Lilli McCauley, received a $500 stipend and will assume a year-long role representing Southwest Washington alongside ten other STEM Rising Stars from 11 Washington STEM Partner Networks across the state.
Lebovitz, Garcia-Hernandez and McCauley each received a $250 stipend from Career Connect SW, and a swag basket from local partners, presented during the Network Awards Reception on June 13.
“We are so honored to get to bring together and celebrate these 19 future leaders and their invited guests,” said Mullen. “Each nominee should be proud of the work they’ve done to earn this honor.”
For more information, please visit the Washington STEM website >
About Career Connect Southwest
Career Connect Southwest (CCSW) is one of ten regional career-connected learning networks under the larger Career Connect Washington (CCW), as well as a partner network of Washington STEM. Formerly known in the ESD 112 region as the Southwest Washington STEM Network, they have realigned their services to more effectively meet the career development needs of all of Southwest Washington’s youth.
CCSW has three local networks spanning six counties that are all committed to working with education, business, and community partners to further the goals of CCW while focusing on the specific opportunities and needs of the region.
For more information about CCSW, please contact:
Vickei Hrdina, Executive Director
Career Connect SW