In early September, nine Upper School students gathered in the STEAMWork Design Studio to share about their summer experiences—but it was no ordinary summer for these students. They were the recipients of the Westridge STEAMWork Summer Support Grant, which offers financial assistance to students in 8th-11th grade to continue their studies in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) fields at summer programs outside of the school. The grant, funded by an anonymous foundation gift from a donor committed to supporting women in STEM, supplies up to 100% of the program costs for students.
“I did the Nanoscale Microscopy Lab at UCLA,” said Dahlia V. ’24. The one-week intensive lab for high school students focuses on scientific imaging, a topic typically only accessible in an advanced college level course. “I worked on a project that was about creating cultured meat on a large scale, which would be more sustainable than conventionally farmed meat (it uses less water and results in lower carbon emissions). My team and I designed a bioreactor that could gather samples from within the bioreactor, and easily bring it to a confocal microscope that can make 3D renderings of the cell culture. At the end, we presented our project to a group of UCLA professors and graduate students.”
The students independently researched the STEAM-related programs they wished to attend and applied for the grant in March. As a condition of the grant, they were expected to report back to their community through a write-up or a presentation in the fall. Students participated in a wide range of programs, spanning from computer science, game design, and engineering to chemistry, biology, and medicine, at both local and international programs (with one student, Maddie M. ’26, going to the UK for two weeks for an engineering program at Oxford!).
Senior Maya M. L., who completed a two-week medical internship through the Stanford Clinical Science, Technology, and Medicine Summer Program, said, “Even though many of the other interns or undergraduate students had already taken the MCAT, there wasn’t ever a point where I felt like my education level was lower than my fellow interns. This experience made me excited to look into medicine for a future career path.”
Head of School Andrea Kassar attended the students’ presentation session and remarked, “It was incredibly exciting to hear about the students’ invaluable summer experiences. The students all remarked that, through these experiences, they learned so much about themselves and what drives their curiosity and research interests. In addition, they were so thoughtful about how their Westridge education prepared them to feel confident and to trust themselves to figure things out, even if they weren’t sure they knew all the answers right away. It was such an inspiring conversation.”
“This grant is an amazing opportunity for students to challenge themselves in STEM fields over the summer,” said STEAMWork Design Studio Coordinator Mick Lorusso. “The experiences can be really transformative and clarifying for them.”
Check out the full list of grant recipients and the programs they attended below! The application for the 2023 STEAMWork Summer Support Grant will open in the spring.
- Dahlia V. ’24 - Nanoscale Microscopy Lab Summer Institute at UCLA Summer Session
- Ellie L.-S. ’25 – Boston University Summer Challenge
- Florence J. ’25 – Java course at USC’s CS@SC Summer Camp
- Isabel H. ’26 – “Algebra Bridging 8th-9th" and “Intro to Precalculus” courses at PolySummer
- Jessica L. ’24 – National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) on Medicine & Healthcare
- Lily N. ’26 – “Unity with C#” course at iD Tech
- Maddie M. ’26 – “Explore Engineering and Technology” course at Oxford Royale Academy
- Maya M. L. ’23 – Stanford Clinical Science, Technology and Medicine Summer Internship
- Sofie W. ’24 – COSMOS (The California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science) at UC Irvine