Alexa Cunningham, a high school sophomore, is a new member of ARCS, joining her mother Lara Cunningham and grandmother Caron Ogg to create a passionate three-generation trio energizing the Oregon Chapter.
Alexa’s interest was sparked when she accompanied Caron on a three-day trip to shoot the chapter’s video at three universities. “She interacted with the scholars more each day, understanding their research from what she had already learned in school,” Caron said. “For example, she understood one scholar’s work because she had studied the concept in her chemistry class,” Caron explained. “Science is now centered around the multidisciplinary STEM approach, teaching students how subjects within the various branches of science are inter-related.”
Alexa also joined her mother and grandmother at events during the ARCS All Members Conference (AMC) in September 2019 and was fascinated by learning about whales during the marine science tour of the Oregon coast and about cancer research from the lectures in Portland. “Alexa has the critical thinking brain, so ARCS research topics are right up her alley,” Lara said. “I’m super excited that she has an interest in science. She’ll be an asset to ARCS.”
Within the Oregon Chapter, Alexa, Lara, and Caron will all work on chapter Communications. Caron has served in many leadership roles with ARCS, including past president of the Oregon chapter. She currently serves on the National Council of Advisors and on the National Information Strategies Committee as a key website trainer for chapter members. Alexa will train with Caron to help with the Oregon chapter website. Lara is the Co-VP of Communications in ARCS Oregon.
Alexa said that the video filming and AMC experiences were pivotal. “I got to meet the scholars and hear how much the ARCS Scholar Award impacted them. I wanted to be part of this organization that helps people.”
Caron and Lara agree that building a pipeline of new ARCS members is important. Young women who don’t remember Sputnik can be energized by the ARCS mission and develop a passion for science because of the impact of seeing ARCS scholars developing real-world solutions combined with changes in STEM education that focus on hands-on, multi-disciplinary teaching. “Times have changed since ARCS was first organized and we need to make changes to the organization to attract women of today. Younger women can bring fresh ideas to the table,” Caron said.