More than 200 students, family members, educators and corporate supporters gathered at the Carver Center in Johnston on Thursday, April 24, to celebrate the accomplishments of 40 high school students and 14 Iowa State University graduates. The event honored young people who successfully completed the Science Bound program from Des Moines high schools, as well as former Des Moines graduates who were earning their degrees this year from Iowa State.
The evening’s guests heard from keynote speaker Dr. Michael Young, ISU professor of mathematics. Dr. Young shared his professional journey and his personal passion for increasing the number of young people of color in mathematics. He encouraged the graduates to continue to cultivate their personal excellence.
After the meal, Dr. Laura Higgins provided the welcome from Corteva Agriscience, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont (formerly DuPont Pioneer), which sponsored the event.
High school program graduates then received certificates in honor of their accomplishments. The ISU graduate awards followed, and the 14 honorees became the first class to accept the Science Bound stole. Royal blue and white in recognition of the program’s early history (the program’s original colors), students wore the garment during graduation from Iowa State.
As part of the evening’s celebration, Student of the Year awards were presented to Rosemary Galdamez (North) and Xavier Robles (Brody, Hoover). The award recognizes students who exceed program requirements and take advantage of multiple opportunities to develop their STEM potential throughout their time in Science Bound. Dr. Alexis Campbell ended her first Des Moines banquet by challenging the students to continue to cultivate their personal excellence.
Denison and Marshalltown
Fourteen Denison and Marshalltown seniors and seven Iowa State graduates from these districts were honored at the Marshalltown Crossover and Honors Banquet on May 11 and Denison Honors Banquet on May 16.
James Gruening, Senior Vice President and Co-Founder of Mechdyne Corporation, was the keynote speaker for the Marshalltown Crossover and Honors Banquet. More than 170 gathered for the evening to celebrate the accomplishments of the students. Moises Garcia received the district’s Student of the Year award.
Daniel Rodriguez (Iowa State University Class of 2017, Science Bound Class of 2013) addressed a crowd of nearly 200 during his keynote for the Denison event. Rodriguez is an Applications Systems Engineering Consultant with Keyot in Des Moines. The Student of the Year Award went to Vanessa Gomez.
In this edition of the Science Bound Senior Spotlight, Iowa State University chemical engineering graduate Yadira Cano Camacho shares her Science Bound story. The photo above features Cano Camacho (center) with her father and mother.
AMES, Iowa – As much as Becky Gomez loved math and science as a kid, she never really connected her favorite subjects with what she might want to do when she grew up. Even when her mom encouraged her to join Science Bound, Becky says she initially thought it was just something fun to do after school.
Now the senior in industrial engineering recognizes how the Iowa State University program, which has empowered Iowa students of color to pursue degrees and careers in STEM fields for the past 25 years, helped fuel her passion into a future career. It all started with her eighth grade science fair project – a Science Bound requirement – and continued in high school with the opportunity to explore different STEM careers.
“I found that I really loved the hands-on approach to science,” Becky said. “That got me interested in problem solving and finding a way to fix the world’s problems and helping other people.”
When Science Bound alum Jessica Maciel-Hernandez began participating in summer research as a Lincoln High School freshman, she wasn’t thinking too much about her career. She was far more concerned with the prospect of camping for three weeks as part of the fieldwork.
“The first time I participated in the summer research was also the first time I ever went camping,” said Maciel-Hernandez, who’s now a senior at Iowa State University. “I’m a city person, so it was definitely a learning experience in many ways. I didn’t know if I would like it or not, but I told myself that I would do it for the whole time no matter what.”
Maciel-Hernandez’s willingness to try new experiences paid off. After continuing to work with the same research group through college, Maciel-Hernandez earned recognitions as a co-author of a research paper. The research she worked on indicates that among painted turtles – a species whose gender is influenced by nesting temperature – the mothers choose nesting sites partially based on gender selection.
The summer research program MacielHernandez took part in is called Turtle Camp Research and Education in Ecology (TREE). ISU professor Fredric Janzen runs this ecological research program, which tries to immerse high school and undergraduate students from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in the field. Janzen and his graduate student Timothy Mitchell were the other researchers included as authors on the published paper with Maciel-Hernandez.
Before participating in TREE, Maciel-Hernandez wasn’t sure about where she wanted to go with her career. Both TREE and her other work with Janzen’s group helped spur her interest in research, and she’s now hoping to find a research-related job after graduating.
For 25 years Science Bound has been empowering students of color to excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. In 2000, Charles E. Stewart, Jr. (Meredith, North) became the first Science Bound graduate to earn a Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa State University. After receiving his agricultural biochemistry degree, Stewart went on to earn his Ph.D. in plant biology at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Now, Stewart is an associate scientist, researcher and facility manager for the Macromolecular X-ray Crystallography facility at ISU.
Throughout school Stewart had a desire to be involved in research and development. His most exciting moments in Science Bound were participating in hands-on science projects, going to weekly meetings and learning about STEM professions. He added that the meetings helped him stay focused on his academics.
“I like learning, I believe that life-long learning is an indispensable tool for everything … I just thought it was a way of opening my eyes to this whole world of opportunities that are out there,” said Stewart.
Stewart urges all students to advantage of any and all opportunities to be active and hands on with science, math and research. He believes that college is developing mind and person, and that some of that development is achieved outside of the classroom.
“There are a lot of things that you will learn by DOING science, math or research. You’re not going to learn everything from a textbook. …Experience will help you decide if you really want to go to graduate school,” said Stewart.
During development, Stewart stresses the importance of embracing curiosity and the world around them.
“Science Bound helped me develop a sense of curiosity, which fueled my passion for learning, which ultimately built a solid, well-rounded foundation in science,” Stewart said. “Work on developing and exploring curiosity about nature and the world around you. Learn to ask questions if you don’t know or don’t understand something. Be confident that you can learn anything that you set your mind to.”
“There are whole worlds of options for those in STEM-related careers,” said Stewart. “I would urge students to embrace the challenges and know that there are people here at ISU (students, staff and faculty) who want to help you succeed.”