Tribal members make mark at AISES
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Since 1977, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) has worked to substantially increase American Indian and Alaska Native representation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields — as students, professionals, mentors, and leaders.
The AISES National Conference is a three-day event convening graduate, under graduate and high school junior and senior students, teachers, workforce professionals, corporate and government partners and all members of the AISES family.
The 38th annual conference in Minneapolis, Minn. included the following representatives from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians – Joseph Owle, Kelsey Standingdeer Owle, Tonya Carroll, Andrew Conseen Duff, Tracey Monteith, Chloe Blythe, Chance Bryant, Seth Ledford, Macie Welch, and Mary Driver. Cherokee Nation citizen Alicia Jacobs and two Cherokee Central Schools staff members, Bette Fitzgerald and Scott Freeman, also attended from Cherokee.
The AISES National conference has become the premier event for Native American Science, Engineering & Math (STEM) professionals and students and attracts over 1,800 attendees from across the country.
Alicia Jacobs, Special Initiatives Director of the Jones-Bowman Leadership Award Program, said, “Attending the AISES national conference has provided the EBCI students with unsurmountable opportunities and guidance in the STEM fields creating an impact on local workforce development.”
The conference provides social and professional networking, mentoring, research, and nationally recognized speakers. It also offers thought-provoking discussions on important current STEM issues, as well as excellent career resources and traditional cultural activities.
Joseph Owle, Kelsey Standingdeer Owle, and Jacobs conducted a presentation, Bridging the Gap Between Culture and STEM, a professional session which shared how the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian members are using cultural leadership and STEM initiatives to help Cherokee youth succeed in STEM and beyond.
During the annual conference, the Winds of Change magazine featured the SPiN initiative. This project aims to connect Cherokee Central School students to park resources in a hands-on way and instill stewardship for those resources while fostering emotional and intellectual connections to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Jones-Bowman Leadership Award Program Fellow, Chloe Blythe, attended as the AISES Region 7 Representative and was nominated to receive the distinguished honor of becoming a Sequoyah Fellow by the AISES Board Chairman Rick Stephens. AISES Sequoyah Fellows are recognized for their commitment to “mission in STEM and to the American Indian community”.
The Cherokee Youth Council sent four high school students including: Chance Bryant, Seth Ledford, Macie Welch, and Mary Driver to participate in the annual conference for the first time.
Bryant noted, “I was given new insight about the opportunities offered to me in a range of careers geared to STEM. We met many role models that was an inspiration on how to be successful in STEM careers. It was also great that we had an opportunity to network with exhibitors on career opportunities. There were tons of career and job information available. I was also inspired by stories of others from Native communities, especially our own group of facilitators. The conference was successful on so many levels.”
The opportunity for the Cherokee Youth Council to attend was made possible through funding that was set aside by Resolution #643, initiated by EBCI Secretary of State Terri Henry.
During the Traditional Honors Banquet, Jacobs was named as the first recipient of the Tribal Partner Service Award.
On her award, she commented, “I am completely humbled to accept this award on behalf of the Native youth I have had the opportunity to serve. Providing leadership opportunity and growth for native youth is my passion and to be recognized for this work is an honor. The work we do today will greatly impact the lives of this community for generations to come and I am blessed to have the opportunity to serve the EBCI community of youth.”
Attending the AISES Annual Conference was made possible through funding from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
– Jones-Bowman Leadership Award Program