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.
Our primary approach to achieve the above outcomes is creating effective mentorship relationship between female university students and female high school students. In this project, priority is given to first-generation undergraduate students, such that it would be more natural for them to become the role models of high school students of West Virginia. All the ambassadresses are selected from STEM majors. They 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 meet female high school students through certain after-school activities.
As a secondary approach, parental and guardian engagement is an integral part of this project, we are organizing “Family STEM Night” at least once a year. Female high school students, their parents, female university students, female university faculty members, and female professionals from local companies 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) are provided to the parents. The parents are also 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 pilot project of the “Ambassadress program” was held in Fayette County, West Virginia. Now seven Ambassadresses are also working with high school female students at Kanawha, Lincoln and Raleigh counties.