First Group of Eureka! Scholars Honored

The first group of Eureka! scholars, now completing their final year in the program and preparing for college, were celebrated Oct. 11 at a special event honoring their accomplishments and the people who have made the program a success.

Eureka! is a five-year program launched in 2013 by the College of Natural Sciences (CNS) in partnership with Girls Inc. of Holyoke that addresses the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Now involving more colleges and departments on campus, Eureka! seeks to motivate girls to pursue higher education and STEM careers.

Each year in Eureka!, a group of 30 eighth-grade girls begins a five-year journey. The first two years begin with a month-long July program on the campus led by faculty and graduate students. The Recreation Center offers the girls structured physical activities and wellness coaching, and Dining Services provides healthy meals and workshops on good nutrition. Eureka! activities continue throughout the school year, reinforcing skills and knowledge gained during the summer.

Eight of the original group of Eureka! participants are now in their final year of high school and are being matched with mentors who will assist them as they prepare for success in college. Another 110 girls, ranging from 8th grader to high school juniors, are currently involved in Eureka!

Among those saluting the success of the program at the ceremony in the Design Building were

CNS Dean Tricia Serio, Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy, Suzanne Parker, executive director of Girls Inc. and Martha Baker, associate dean of undergraduate education. A video highlighting the program’s accomplishments was shown, and professor Nilanjana Dasgupta, and CNS director of faculty equity and inclusion, gave a talk titled, “Day of the Girl:  Eureka! by the Numbers.”

In addition, three workshop presenters, Christine Hatch, geosciences, Anna Symington, veterinary and animal sciences, and Xochiquetzal Salazar, Auxiliary Enterprises, discussed their experiences working with the Eureka! girls.