This “Ambassadress program,” is the first project of the EMPOWERS in which female university students serve as the ambassadresses of high school female students. Through the ambassadress program, the following three outcomes are anticipated.
Outcome 1: High school female students’ performance in their math and science courses is improved.
Outcome 2: High school female students’ interest in STEM disciplines is increased.
Outcome 3: High school students’ parents become more knowledgeable about STEM disciplines.
The pilot project of the “Ambassadress program” will be held in Fayette County, West Virginia. Our primary approach to achieve the above outcomes is creating effective mentorship relationship between female university students and female high school students. In this pilot project, five female undergraduate students of West Virginia University (WVU) will be selected as the ambassadresses of female high school students of Fayette County, West Virginia. Priority will be given to first-generation undergraduate students with southern West Virginia background, such that it would be more natural for them to become the role models of high school students of Fayette County. All the ambassadresses will be selected from STEM majors. They will not only help high school female students with their math and science coursework, but also inspire their interest in STEM disciplines. Under the supervision of high school female teachers, the ambassadresses will meet female high school students once a week through certain after-school activities.
As a secondary approach, parental and guardian engagement is an integral part of this project. A “Family STEM Night” will be held in the summer of 2018 at Clay Center of Charleston, West Virginia. Female high school students, their parents, female university students, female university faculty members, and female professionals from local companies will attend the Family STEM Night. A range of information related to STEM majors (such as STEM job availability and university STEM scholarships in West Virginia) will be provided to the parents. The parents will be encouraged to raise questions or concerns to our ambassadresses or university faculty members. Through this event, the adult participants are expected to be more knowledgeable about STEM, and in turn, would play a more constructive role their daughters’ education.
The “Ambassadress program” receives strong support from Fayette County Board of Education. In 2018, the ambassadress program will be initiated at every high school of Fayette County. The successful model and experience collected from this project would be promoted to other counties of West Virginia and other states.