Upon completion of acquiring Kalama-based Emerald Kalama Chemicals in July 2021, LANXESS Corporation committed to an investment of $75,000 to support Southwest Washington students in exploring and preparing for future careers in STEM-related fields. The contribution will be over three years in $25,000 installments to support paid student summer work experiences organized through Career Connect Southwest (CCSW). CCSW has three local networks spanning six Southwest Washington counties that are committed to working with education, business, and community partners to develop a skilled workforce that contribute to a strong economic future in local communities.
“Not only do we plan to invest in our facilities and employees here in Southwestern Washington, but we are excited to invest in young people throughout this region. It is important for us to be a good corporate citizen where we work – and that starts with students, the future leaders of the community and of our workforce,” said Matthias Zachert, LANXESS AG CEO. “We are hopeful that this program shows our commitment throughout the region to develop a pipeline of talent that will carry us into the future.”
Beginning this summer, the $25,000 funding provided by LANXESS has supported 55 high school students in 40-hour paid summer internships with a variety of area companies, as students explore various careers in STEM-related fields. Over the following two years, CCSW expects to support 100 students each summer.
“Summer work and internships are a strong way to help high school students gain career readiness skills and to connect with professionals in a field that interests them to build social capital. Too often there isn’t funding to support those types of programs, and if there is, they may not be accessible to rural students,” said Vickei Hrdina, Director of Career Readiness and STEM Initiatives at ESD 112. “The investment from LANXESS is an example of the way the community values student’s futures in our region. We want them to see the opportunities that Southwest Washington offers and help support them and their families as they transition from high school to post-secondary education, whether it’s an apprenticeship, college, or university.”
Students who apply for the paid summer internships are primarily from rural communities across Southwest Washington. CCSW’s Rural Career Navigator program works with school districts to identify and counsel high school students about their graduation pathways and careers identified in their individual High School & Beyond Plan, a Washington State graduation requirement that helps students get the most out of their high school experience and gets them thinking about their future.
Students selected for this summer’s paid internships are looking forward to taking the next steps towards a career in STEM-related fields.
Kalama High School student Haily Long-Kisto is one intern who has benefited from the grant provided by LANXESS. Long-Kisto was introduced to welding in her manufacturing class, taught by Kalama High School CTE Director Cory Torppa. She completed her internship in the welding shop at Lower Columbia College.
“Once I started welding, I was immediately hooked on it,” said Long-Kisto.
She plans to continue welding, both as a career and a hobby. At the internship Long-Kisto learned welding art, gas welding, arc welding, welding techniques, and how to carbon arc. Using scrap metal and the various welding techniques that she learned, she created a horse, a girl sitting in a chair and a dragon.
According to Long-Kisto, her favorite thing about the internship was, “Getting to work at a higher level than I usually do,” and when asked if she would recommend a summer internship to her friends, she enthusiastically responded that she, “highly recommends it to everyone!”
The Rural Career Navigator network matches each student with a local partner for a 40-hour project based internship. Students receive career readiness coaching, resume writing support, mock interview experience, as well as a $500 stipend upon completion of their internship.
“It is a very rewarding experience placing young adults in internships,” said Christine Katon, CCSW’s Rural Career Navigator. “Youth are placed in internships based on their career pathway, which often results in an increased commitment to their education and post-secondary plans. Placing a youth in an internship that results in them changing their career pathway is just as valuable. Whether the internship strengthens their career plans or sends them down a new pathway, it provides them with valuable work experience, professional connections and an increase in self-confidence.”
Local businesses providing the internships also see the benefits of introducing high school students interested in STEM-related fields to some of the opportunities available to them. Students gain practical experience that may spark or encourage a deeper interest in various future professions, while businesses may not only receive valuable support and help with current projects and tasks, but also gain a new perspective, and broaden their future employee candidate pool.
The funding will also be used to support programs that recognize local high school students involved in STEM academics and activities, such as the Washington STEM Rising Star Awards, which recently recognized three Southwest Washington students nominated by their local career-connected learning networks as the next generation of STEM leaders.
“We thank LANXESS for their generous funding that will allow us to provide these important early work experiences in career readiness for students interested in STEM-related fields,” said Hrdina. “These paid summer internships will allow students to truly see and experience what they can accomplish now and in the future, and help them take the next steps in their academic and professional paths.”
LANXESS Corporation is a German specialty chemicals company based in Germany and with offices throughout the U.S including Vancouver, WA. With a commitment to health, safety, and the environment, education is a main pillar of LANXESS’s corporate citizenship program. They endeavor to encourage young people worldwide to develop a passion for chemistry and for learning at a young age. Within the context of the LANXESS education initiative, they have established projects at many of our sites to pursue this objectives in varying ways. Learn more >
Career Connect Southwest (CCSW) is one of nine 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.