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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Recent alumna urges youth to attend college

    Ekaterina Kate Hristova Spriggs, a recent UA graduate and native of Bulgaria, has received a fellowship from the National Science Foundation that will fund her graduate studies at Carnegie Mellon University, totaling $30,000 a year for the next three years.
    Ekaterina ‘Kate’ Hristova Spriggs, a recent UA graduate and native of Bulgaria, has received a fellowship from the National Science Foundation that will fund her graduate studies at Carnegie Mellon University, totaling $30,000 a year for the next three years.

    Many graduating seniors have no immediate clue of where they’re going after college, or what they’re doing.

    Recent alumna Kate Spriggs will be spending the next three years at Carnegie Mellon University, using a prestigious science fellowship to get more middle and high school students into college.

    Spriggs, who graduated last May, recently received a $30,000-per-year award from the National Science Foundation.

    Candidates selected for the fellowship are judged for having the two major qualities of intellectual merit and accomplishment, and impact and contribution to the community.

    According to the foundation, NSF fellows are critical in upholding and advancing technological completeness and economic strength of society, while becoming knowledgeable researchers and experts in their fields.

    Spriggs spent a significant portion of her undergraduate years serving the Southern Arizona community. She has volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club for the past four years in an effort to get more students to go to college.

    One of the tools she developed toward that end was a Web site that she said operates like Wikipedia; it is a free, open-source resource with which people can teach others about the educational process.

    She hopes to take the Web site to other cities and college campuses to encourage another generation of underprivileged youths to go to college.

    Spriggs said she wanted to give back to the community because of the numerous opportunities she has received since moving to Arizona from Bulgaria.

    “”I was in love with the United States and it has always been an idol to me,”” Spriggs said. “”I’m trying to give back to the community because of all of the opportunities it has given me.””

    Her long-term goal is to develop intelligent-computer software for middle and high school students that will help keep them engaged and interested in classroom materials.

    The system will evaluate when students get bored or frustrated by measuring their visual cues and blood pressure, and then change the program to keep the student engaged in the material.

    Spriggs attributes much of her success to the support she a received from Jacobus Barnard, a computer sciences professor; Barry Pryor, a plant science professor; and Emily Butler, a family and consumer sciences professor.

    “”They have helped me so much and they’ve been absolutely wonderful mentors,”” Spriggs said. “”Because of the mentoring Dr. Barnard gave me, I went into computer science.””

    She also said she has received an immeasurable amount of support from her husband, as well as her parents, who recently moved from Bulgaria to Arizona.

    Spriggs plans to earn a doctoral degree from Carnegie Mellon University and then transition into teaching.

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