Washington STEM and the Apple STEM Network are pleased to announce that Alexandra (Natalie) Vazquez, a senior at Lake Chelan High School, has been recognized as the 2023 Apple STEM Network Rising Star. This prestigious honor acknowledges Natalie’s exceptional dedication to STEM education and her outstanding contributions to her school and community.
The Washington STEM Rising Star Awards highlight the young thinkers, scientists, engineers, inventors, and entrepreneurs who will become the next generation of STEM leaders.
Natalie’s passion for STEM subjects ignited in grade 9, and since then, she has fearlessly embraced challenging coursework, including AP Physics, Geology 101, and Calculus. Her thirst for knowledge extends beyond the classroom as she actively seeks opportunities to engage with STEM in various settings. Natalie was nominated by her Agriculture Education Teacher, Mrs. Slagel at Lake Chelan High School. In addition to well deserved recognition, Natalie will receive $500 and will join the 9 other Rising STEM Starts for a special trip to the Microsoft Campus in Redmond this fall.
Natalie’s nomination describes her as a leader and top performer in her classes; Natalie consistently exhibits perseverance and hard work, mastering complex material with ease. She currently serves as the Vice President of the Chelan Med Club and has been elected as the President for the upcoming year. In this role, Natalie actively contributes to planning and directing activities for over 50 active Med Club members at her school.
Natalie’s commitment to community outreach is commendable. Through the Med Club, she leads a group of high school students in monthly STEM training sessions with fifth-grade classrooms. In collaboration with Columbia Valley Community Health resident physicians, they conduct engaging activities such as dissections and lessons on the eye, optics, vision, the heart, and blood flow. This initiative not only fosters STEM education among young students but also instills a passion for learning.
In addition to her involvement with the Med Club, Natalie has secured a job shadowing opportunity with Columbia Valley Community Health, where she works directly with physicians twice a week. She has accumulated over 40 hours in this role, gaining valuable experience and insight into the healthcare needs and services in her community. Natalie is also arranging to shadow Lifeline Ambulance to further expand her understanding of healthcare services.
Natalie’s unwavering dedication to STEM extends to her future goals. She aspires to become a physician and plans to attend Washington State University or the University of Washington. Her ambition to make a positive impact in the medical field showcases her determination and commitment to serving others.
The Washington STEM Rising Stars program celebrates high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors who identify as girls or young women, who actively embrace STEM education, and explore STEM in ways that support their education, career, personal development, and the needs of others. This program, hosted by Washington STEM in collaboration with STEM Networks across the state, aims to recognize and encourage the next generation of leaders in STEM fields, while also addressing the underrepresentation of girls in STEM.
“It’s such an honor to recognize someone who shines as brightly as Natalie does! She radiates potential and it’s going to be pretty special to see her launch into her future in the coming years,” said Dr. Sue Kane, Co-Director of the Apple STEM Network. “It’s also really neat to see Lake Chelan take this award for the second year in a row! We received so many truly inspiring nominations for young women across the region. Ultimately, it’s not tough to see what the selection committee saw in Natalie.”
The significance of a strong STEM education cannot be understated. In Washington state, STEM jobs are in high demand and offer better-paying opportunities. The concentration of STEM jobs in the state is among the highest in the nation, with the number of opportunities rapidly increasing. By 2030, more than 70% of these well-paying jobs will require post-secondary education, including 2- or 4-year degrees or certificates, with 68% requiring STEM credentials or STEM literacy.
The Rising STEM Star awards serve as a way to encourage young women to embrace STEM education and explore the ways it will support their education, career, and personal development. All nominations were submitted by teachers based on the student’s involvement and passion for STEM academics and activities.
Nominees were considered based on the following criteria:
- Their participation in STEM activities in or outside of the classroom (robotics, 4-H/ag science club, computer science group, etc.)
- Their development or creation of STEM projects in or outside of the classroom (website development, business ventures, STEM-related art, etc.)
- Their use of STEM as a means of service to their community and/or family (tutoring, volunteering with a STEM-based community program, etc.)
- Their general passion for learning and exploring topics in STEM
- Their academic excellence, particularly in STEM-focused subjects (exceptional grades or evaluations in a STEM course/class or overall)
About Apple STEM Network
The Apple STEM Network is a multidimensional alliance comprising K-12, Higher Education, and community partners in North Central Washington. The network represents a diverse region with tremendous potential for STEM industry growth in agriculture, energy, and innovation. Their collaborative efforts focus on providing support systems for educators, promoting mentorship within the community, integrating authentic project-based learning and field experiences, and inspiring students to explore the vast opportunities available through STEM. To learn more, visit www.applestemnetwork.org
About the North Central Educational Service District (NCESD)
The North Central Educational Service District (NCESD) serves as a vital resource to the 29 districts within its four-county service area. With a commitment to meeting the needs of individual schools and districts, the NCESD provides professional tools and timely support while serving as a reliable point of education-related information for the communities it serves. The NCESD’s reputation extends throughout Washington State, making it a respected resource for other Educational Service Districts.
About Washington STEM
Washington STEM is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to leveraging STEM for social change, eliminating barriers to credential attainment, and creating pathways to long-term economic security for historically excluded students. They work tirelessly to ensure that all students, including Black, Brown, Indigenous, rural, and economically disadvantaged students, have equal access to the transformative possibilities that STEM offers. For more information about Washington STEM, please visit www.washingtonstem.org. Stay updated on their work by following them on Twitter (@washingtonstem) and connecting via Facebook and LinkedIn.