K-State’s KAWSE program is championing a generation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math
K-State Advancement of Women in Science and Engineering or KAWSE program creatively works to help women of all ages feel included in their field of study. “We design events to help students survive and thrive in (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) STEM disciplines, especially those who are underrepresented in STEM,” said Morgan Greene, program coordinator for KAWSE.
KAWSE has four basic programs to increase the participation, retention and advancement of girls and women in STEM: GROW, EXCITE, SUCCEED and ADVANCE.
- GROW: Hands-on programs for sixth-eighth graders designed to inspire students to pursue a STEM career.
- EXCITE: For ninth-12th graders, encouraging students to experience college life and enter a STEM major.
- SUCCEED: Professional development, employment, volunteer and networking opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.
- ADVANCE: Professional development opportunities for postdoctoral students and faculty.
These programs help students, faculty and staff of most ages remain engaged and excited about their chosen fields, while giving them a community in which to connect with people who are in similar situations. “Our professional development events offer strategies for identifying and overcoming barriers that underrepresented folks may face while pursuing degrees and/or in their careers,” said Morgan. “Students can also grow as leaders by participating in our programs, such as mentoring middle/high school students who are interested in STEM disciplines.”
“KAWSE helps foster a supportive network of STEM colleagues, outside of the lens of particular colleges or departments; our programs are often campus-wide, which can be beneficial to creating a less siloed university experience,” said Morgan.
These programs also help to grow the diversity within Kansas State University. “I think K-State thrives on diversity and hard work. These are two areas that KAWSE exemplifies. To be able to see such an accomplished and far-reaching community of women is encouraging for all students,” said Taylor Jamison, a junior at K-State. “I’ve seen many of my professors involved in KAWSE events, and that has made me feel a higher sense of connection with them.”
Students notice the difference KAWSE makes in their lives, in and out of the classroom. “It really solidified my place as a university student in a STEM field, and it made me want to continue to help and educate people of all ages. I continued to work as a mentor for the weekend GROW day camps and had just as much of a fun and rewarding experience there,” said Taylor. “It brought me so much joy to see the next generation of girls and young people talk passionately about their dreams in science, that I had to keep coming back!”
Even during troubling times, the KAWSE program continues to bring this vital programming. “We’re hosting office hours so students can still connect with us in an informal setting. We’ve also continued to provide the professional development opportunities members of the K-State family expect of us, so students, faculty, and staff can continue to grow and thrive while at K-State,” said Morgan.
“Through the COVID-19 pandemic, KAWSE was still able to put on its summer GROW and EXCITE programs virtually. I remember reading the announcement that the camps would continue early in the pandemic, and it gave me hope that school would continue, albeit in a bit different format,” said Taylor. “Since then, KAWSE has also linked mental health and other helpful resources during the pandemic, which have been very helpful during a difficult time.”
KAWSE has changed the way students interact with each other on and off campus. “I’ve met so many remarkable and driven women of all ages through KAWSE, and I’m proud to be part of that group,” said Taylor. “It inspires me to see people like me working in all levels and areas in STEM and has even encouraged me to pursue further education myself.”