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McDowell County HSTA Science Symposium 2022

Submitted by Tammy Grubb, HSTA Field Site Coordinator

WELCH, W.Va. – McDowell County students recently participated in HSTA’s Annual Science Symposium, held at Mount View Middle School on May 14, 2022.

Health Sciences & Technology Academy, or “HSTA” clubs are composed of students in grades 9 through 12, must complete yearly science research projects and present them at this annual event.
McDowell County HSTA clubs from Mount View, and River View high schools attended this one-of-a-kind event. Teachers Cassie Burkett, Ed Evans, Stephen Ford, Amanda Miller, and Sherry Woolridge facilitated HSTA students, who worked in weekly club meetings throughout the school year, to prepare projects that focus on health issues relevant to West Virginia.

Projects presented on topics including COVID-19 vaccines, sleep habits, stress in our daily lives, physical fitness, nutrition, and many other health related issues.

The motivational keynote speaker, Emily Hicks, is a 2015 HSTA graduate from Mount View High School. She spoke to students on the importance of education and how much the HSTA program helped prepare her for college.

Emily said, “the benefit of the HSTA program goes beyond the tuition waivers, it prepares you for your future in college.” Emily earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary/special education from Bluefield State University, and her master’s in education/special education from Concord University. Emily is currently a teacher in the McDowell County school system.

We were fortunate to have with us two other HSTA alumni serving as guest judges, Nadia Johnson & Hailey Mitchem. Nadia is a graduate of Concord University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology/psychology and is pursuing her master’s degree. Hailey is a student at Bluefield State University in the RadTech program. Nadia and Hailey stated that it was an honor to serve as judges for this event as they know what it is like to present projects in front of large groups. They enjoyed having a different HSTA experience by serving as judges.

Over seventy students, teachers, and special guests were in attendance for this spectacular event. The Health Sciences & Technology Academy, known as HSTA, is a one-of-a-kind mentoring program in the state of West Virginia that helps underrepresented high school students enter and succeed in STEM-based undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

HSTA marshals the efforts of hundreds of mentors, teachers, community members, higher-education faculty, and staff, and the HSTA participants themselves through a framework that supports students facing social and financial challenges to obtaining a diploma and furthering their education.

Implemented through West Virginia University, HSTA’s main goals are to increase college attendance in Appalachia, improve STEM education in public schools, empower communities through youth leadership, and increase the number of healthcare providers and STEM educators in underserved communities.

Special thanks to Summer Kuhn, HSTA Community Research Associate; Leon Gravely, Mount View Middle School Principal; HSTA teachers, Cassie Burkett, Ed Evans, Stephen Ford, Amanda Miller, and Sherry Woolridge; McDowell County HSTA Local Governing Board; and special guest, Emily Hicks, Nadia Johnson, and Hailey Mitchem.