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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Banquet honors outreach efforts, grant

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Samantha Munsey
Samantha Munsey/ Daily Wildcat UA

The College of Engineering celebrated its achievements in outreach as well as the receipt of a $3 million grant this year.

The UA’s Women in Science, Engineering and Technology program, also known as WISE, hosted the sixth annual Science and Engineering Excellence Banquet at the Riverpark Inn near downtown Tucson. The banquet, titled “Lighting the Way,” recognized staff, students and local companies and organizations that promote diversity in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.

“It is exciting and incredible to see an entire year of work come together for this banquet,” said November Papaleo, director of WISE and a lecturer in the Women’s Studies department. “There are so many people and organizations that help us, it feels that saying thank you is not enough so that is why we have this celebration.”

WISE aims to motivate female students to enter careers related to the science, engineering, technology and medical fields. But the program is open to any student interested in increasing diversity to the research community.

“I think that a lot of people sometimes see science and engineering as a male career,” said Ali Fischer, a nutritional sciences junior. “So I think that it is cool to represent women who are in the field as well.”

WISE organizes outreach programs for local middle and high schools. It also provides involvement opportunities for UA students, like mentoring programs and event hosting, to get Tucson’s youth interested in science.

“My experience in WISE has been great,” said Alyssa Salanga, a physiology junior and intern with WISE. “You get to meet people who have the same interests as you and it is kind of like a little family.”

This academic year, WISE received a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to expand its outreach program to schools in the Pascua Yaqui Tribe for the next three years, according to Papaleo.

“We will be working hand and hand with local reservations and doing third through eighth grade mentoring,” Papaleo said.

In addition to recognizing the grant, WISE also handed out awards to staff, students and supporters for excellence in the technology and science fields over the last year. Madeline Saunders, president of WISE and a chemistry junior, won the Presidential Award for Service for her contributions in the program.

“I am very honored to get this award,” Saunders said. “I have been with WISE for a long time and I have seen so much improvement in the program and it has been great to be a part of it.”

Russell Chipman, a professor for the College of Optical Sciences and the event’s keynote speaker, said he has been encouraging more women to become doctoral candidates in his college. By doing so, he said, there will be more mentors for young women interested in studying science. In the past six years, Chipman has helped four doctoral students complete their degrees.

“What WISE is doing to help encourage women in both middle school and high school is so very important,” Chipman said. “Without an escalator of women coming into undergraduate school, graduate school and faculty positions, we won’t have the women mentors that we really need.”

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