Name: Nicole Wendel
From: Iowa City, Iowa
Grade: Freshman in College
School: University of Iowa
Forward Scholarship 2016
to Create an Interest in STEM
I grew up playing with baking soda volcanoes and chemistry kits from toy stores. I was encouraged to explore the sciences and find where my passions lay, which I am eternally grateful to my parents for because those little things led to me majoring in a subject that I
love – chemistry. As lucky as I was to have such a supportive environment, I also knew that others were not as fortunate as myself
in having that, which is something that I really wanted to help change. This led to me volunteering with the University of Illinois’
4H program, where I specialized as a science ambassador, and eventually became a science ambassador leader.
I became a science ambassador junior year after a chance meeting with the people who run the program while I was volunteering at a food bank. They offered me a chance to join the science ambassadors after I talked with them about how much I enjoy STEM classes and that I had been looking to volunteer in some sort of STEM environment. As a science ambassador I was to teach children about STEM in a fun and captivating way. We planned activities such as making slime, building rockets, and even programing light boards. It was very rewarding to be able to teach kids these activities and to see them thoroughly enjoy things related to STEM. We tried to reach as many children as possible, from those who had already been exposed to STEM to those who had never done anything with it before. I really enjoyed working with children who had never done anything with it before as I felt privileged to be the person to introduce them to STEM and it was exciting to watch them make discoveries as they worked through the activities. While many of the children will probably not go into a STEM related field, I am still grateful that I was even able to expose them to it and maybe help them find out that they really have a passion for something STEM related.
After a year of being a science ambassador, I was able to become a science ambassador leader as I was recommended by the person who ran the program. Becoming a leader allowed me to help schedule events and train the newer science ambassadors, along with doing what I did before. This has led to me continuing my work with 4H in college, as I joined collegiate 4H as soon as I got to campus.
Without this opportunity I would not have felt like I helped impact my community, but now that I have I feel like I might have made a
difference in some childs life. If I could have helped any of them find their passion in life, then my job was done correctly, because I
just want them to feel like myself when I was their age.