Lydia Calderon-Aceituno, a graduating high school senior in Spokane, Wash. discovered her passion for math in middle school. “I came to love the feeling of satisfaction that came from understanding how the world around me worked,” she explains in the short video she shared as part of the 3rd annual Washington STEM Signing Day.
Just like signing days for athletes, Washington STEM Signing Day celebrates high school seniors from across the state as they formalize their commitment to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at some of the state and country’s top technical schools, colleges, and universities. It’s hosted each year by Boeing and Washington STEM.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s event moved into the virtual realm with students, state legislators, Washington STEM and Boeing leaders submitting short videos. The videos shared by honorees show a broad range of goals and dreams, all anchored by a solid STEM education.
Zoe Gotthold, from Richland, Wash. says the COVID-19 pandemic, and its impact on her peers and society, has only intensified her desire to study chemistry in college. “I want to do something about the problem of infectious diseases and pandemics like this one,” she explains in her video. “So I’m going to be learning more about the inner workings of viruses and their treatments.”
Others talk about pursuing STEM careers that range from nursing to computer coding to aviation and beyond. Joseph Truss, from Federal Way, Wash. says a career in aviation has long been his dream. “I’ve just always been fascinated with aviation ever since I was a kid,” he says. “The first time I saw the Blue Angels fly over Lake Washington, I just became hooked on everything aviation.”
Boeing leaders also created videos to congratulate this year’s STEM Signing Day honorees. Kim Smith, vice president and general manager of the 747/767 programs and also a member of the Washington STEM board, explains how her STEM education was just the first step of a rewarding career path. “With hard work, I graduated and joined Boeing,” she says. “I’ve had amazing opportunities to work with extraordinary people on critical missions and travel the world... I am convinced that you and your peers will help this world come together to solve some of our world’s biggest problems.”
Bill McSherry, vice president of Government Operations at Boeing Commercial Airplanes tells students in his video that being selected and celebrated as a STEM Signing Honoree is something these students have earned. “It’s great recognition for the years of work and dedication you’ve put into your studies, and your commitment to pursue a STEM education and STEM career,” says McSherry. “As you move into college and onto your next steps, have fun, stay focused. I can’t wait to see how far you’ll go!”
By Deborah Feldman and Eric Olson