AAUW Issaquah nominates nine STEM scholars

Every year, the American Association of University Women of Washington State recognizes hundreds of young women for their accomplishments in science, technology and math.

Every year, the American Association of University Women of Washington State recognizes hundreds of young women for their accomplishments in science, technology and math.

AAUW’s Issaquah branch on Thursday, April 21, recognized nine area high school students for their accomplishments in the so-called “STEM” fields, three from each of the Issaquah School District’s comprehensive high schools.

From Issaquah High School, AAUW recognized Avalon Feiler for accomplishments in technology, Abigail Coffing for math and Pauline Andrews for science.

Feiler is the current coach and captain of the Issaquah High robotics team. She said she looked on with fascination when her older brothers competed with the team, but was bothered by its de facto status as a boys-only club.

“The ratio between males and females was appalling,” Feiler said. “There was a year where there weren’t any girls on the team at all — they didn’t do that well, by the way.”

In addition to robotics team, Feiler is the founder and vice president of the Gender Equality Club and the vice president of the Gay Straight Alliance.

Coffing is a talented martial artist, drummer and pianist, but was recognized primarily for her accomplishments in a foreign exchange program. Coffing attended her sophomore year of high school in Spain, outside Barcelona. She took classes in Catalan Spanish and earned the equivalent of a Spanish high school diploma.

While visiting Barcelona, Coffing saw the Sagrada Familia, a temple that has remained under construction for more than 130 years. She said seeing the temple has partially inspired her to pursue a college major in environmental design or green architecture.

Andrews is frequently recommended as a physics tutor to classmates and is an executive board member of Issaquah High’s chapter of the National Honor Society — outside school she is an ice skater and equestrian.

Andrews plans to attend college as a math major but, after attending the National Student Leadership Conference at Yale University, she’s considering a career in law.

“Who doesn’t like arguing with people?” she said.

From Skyline High School, AAUW recognized Alexandra Kruper for accomplishments in technology, Jennifer DeJong for science and Margaret Liu for math.

Kruper is a member of the National Honor Society, an International Baccaluareate candidate and president of the High School Engineering Club. She was also the driver for the allied Skyline Spartabots and Aviation High Skunk Works robotics team that won the 2014 Girls Generation robotics competition.

Afterward, Kruper said she decided robotics wasn’t for her and instead devoted her time to the Skyline Engineering Club.

DeJong is a member of the National Honor Society and a tutor with the King County Library System. She studies music and outside school she practices the Japanese martial art of Kendo — both of which require and instill a sense of discipline, she said. She plans to continue the development of her leadership skills so that she can leverage the power of numbers to fuel greater accomplishments, she said.

“While it’s true that one person can change the world, that one person is nothing without a team to back them up,” DeJong said.

Liu has been named Skyline’s Student of the Month and is an officer with the school’s dance team. Outside of school, she is a volunteer at the Issaquah State Salmon Hatchery. Liu said her interest in math actually came out of her early struggles with the subject.

“Like most kids I wasn’t really excited about math in childhood,” she said. “I think that being delayed, really pushed me to pursue mathematics outside the classroom. Through this, I delved into more complex things and really developed an appreciation for the subject.”

From Liberty High School, AAUW recognized Emily Jacobson for accomplishments in technology, Samantha Kelderman for science and Megan Kirschner for math.

Jacobson is an officer and the head of communications for the Iron Patriots robotics club, a National Honor Society Member, and a Washington Aerospace Scholar. She wishes to pursue a degree in aerospace engineering or physics in college. Additionally, she’s a dancer who studies several languages, and said she focuses on creative “right-brained” pursuits as much as “left-brained.”

“If you want to be a scientist, a designer, an engineer, you need to be creative,” Jacobson said. “You want to go to Mars, go to the ends of the solar system, you need to think creatively.”

Kelderman is a National Honor Society member with a 3.953 grade point average. She also serves as a VOICE mentor to a Maple Hills Elementary student.

Kelderman works as the sports editor of the Patriot Press student newspaper and tries to spend as much time outside as possible, she said. She intends to study environmental science or biochemistry in college, she said.

Kirschner has been a member of the Liberty High Associated Student Body for three years and serves as the secretary to the class of 2017. She was the school’s ambassador to the 2015 Washington State University Hugh O’Brian Youth Seminar.

She is a volunteer for Athletes 4 Kids, a group that pairs athletes with children with special needs.

“The foundation of this nonprofit is that every kid deserves a friend,” Kirschner said. “I spend about four to eight hours per month with my buddy … I play Barbie with her; we watch a lot of ‘Frozen.'”