High school students from the Achievement Institute of Scientific Studies (AISS) in Orange County, California, amplified their passion for STEM studies after virtually attending ARCS Foundation National’s ARCS Scholar COVID-19 Panel in June 2020. The online panel included four outstanding ARCS Scholars and Scholar Alums who each described how they are contributing to the efforts to combat COVID-19.
The AISS students are high-achieving high school juniors and seniors who hope to pursue a career in STEM and are selected predominately from schools in the Santa Ana Unified School District. The 25 students who attended the panel are also enrolled in the AISS College-to-Career Readiness STEM program, an initiative that can help them gain acceptance into colleges and universities. Ninety-two percent of the students in the selective, intense 2020 AISS STEM program are economically disadvantaged.
Inspired by ARCS Scholars and Scholar Alums, each AISS student wrote a short essay about what resonated with them as they observed the panel discussion. Many students said they were motivated by the scholars’ examples of leadership, courage, and resourcefulness. “All of the scholars are working hard to make a change in this world with the generous help of ARCS,” said rising senior Adamaris Gasca. “Their wide range of projects and experiences proves anyone can do anything to help out in the current state of the world.”
Attending the ARCS Scholar COVID-19 Panel presentation was one way for AISS students to engage with successful STEM graduate students and professionals. Melodi Morgan, an intern scholar with AISS, found motivation for the future through the scholars’ stories. “The ARCS Scholars’ fervent actions showed me that a better future is attainable due to the incredible evolution of their projects.”
Christopher Garcia, class of 2021, was especially impressed by the low-cost ventilator developed by Alexandra (Sasha) Perebikovsky, PhD. He used a similar medical device. “I used a ventilator for health problems when I was a child, and it was a financial burden for my family,” he wrote. “So, if she is trying to find a way to decrease the cost, it could help many families.”
The AISS students' observation of the ARCS Scholar COVID-19 Panel was arranged by AISS Board Member and Class of 2020 Writing Instructor Jacqueline “Jackie” Rojas, PhD. Jackie is a STEM consultant and evaluator with a doctorate in Science Education. She is also a dedicated board member of ARCS Foundation’s Orange County Chapter. Rojas said she has a passion for sharing the ARCS Foundation mission with AISS students.
Rojas enjoys bridging the gap between her students and STEM fields by consistently arranging for them to attend university events and online informational sessions such as the COVID-19 panel.