DEHP Student Wins National S.T.E.M. Contest
Rachel Whitman (third from left) and other honorees traveled to California in November for a week-long tour of STEM operations in leading corporations.
Imagine standing on the red carpet shaking hands with cast members at a Hollywood premiere. For DEHP student and Cherokee High School senior Rachel Whitman, this was more than just a dream.
Rachel applied for Marvel's Thor: The Dark World Ultimate Mentor Adventure in Fall 2013 and was chosen as one of 10 winners out of over 200 applicants nationwide. The Marvel-themed contest began as "an initiative to encourage high school girls to explore careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)," Rachel explained. Each contest winner and a parent traveled to California in November to explore careers in STEM and be filmed as part of a mini-documentary.
Rachel plans to pursue a career in neuropsychology.
The contest winners were given interactive tours to see science and technology in action at Dolby Laboratories, Underwriters Laboratories and other locations, and met with women in a wide range of professions, from mechanical engineer to astrophysicist. Rachel describes these women as mentors, explaining that they not only offered her career advice, but personal insight and encouragement as well. "Everyone was incredibly enthusiastic, and really made an effort to give us as much information and knowledge as they could," Rachel recalled. Having been inspired by one such mentor, Rachel now plans to pursue a career in neuropsychology. After graduating from Cherokee High School, where she is also active in Air Force ROTC, she plans to finish her general education courses at KSU, and then hopes to transfer to UGA.
The contest winners learned about human perception of special effects on an on-set tour of the Marvel TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and about the engineering feats behind Disneyland's attractions. "There was so much going on that I honestly have to watch the mini-documentary to remember it all," Rachel said of her week in California. At a surprise award ceremony, each student also received a $1,000 scholarship and an Amazon Kindle Fire HD.
The culmination of the week was attending the Hollywood premiere of Thor, where the 10 winners got to walk on the red carpet and meet the stars of the movie. The documentary highlighting contest winners'
week was shown as a preview to the movie. Rachel recalls meeting the movie cast including Sir Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Kat Dennings, and Stan Lee. "Yes, Chris Hemsworth is every bit as stunning in person," Rachel laughs.
Rachel encourages other DEHP students to take a chance and apply for scholarships, internships, and contests. The application process required Rachel to interview a woman in science, and submit a five-minute video about what she learned and her own goals and interests in science. A panel of judges from Underwriters Laboratories and the National Academy of Sciences judged the submissions. The contest was a collaborative effort sponsored by these organizations as well as Marvel, Dolby Laboratories, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Discovery Science Center.
"This contest was not the first one I had entered," explained Rachel. She had been denied from five scholarship contests before, but each time had reminded herself that something better out there. "I never imagined that thought would turn out to be so accurate," Rachel said. "I learned that the best way to be successful is to seize every opportunity that comes your way." -- Liza Stepat
DEHP siblings at Yale and Johns Hopkins offer tips for students applying to selective colleges
DEHP alums William and Monique Bailey, schoolmates since childhood, always shared a similar path of academic achievement. After their high school graduation in May of 2012, their paths diverged as William entered Yale University for computer science and Monique embarked upon a biomedical engineering major at Johns Hopkins University. Looking back at their time in the Dual Enrollment Honors Program and their journey to prestigious universities, these high-performing siblings are happy to share advice about the application process to selective schools and lessons they've learned along the way.
William Bailey is now a sophomore studying computer science at Yale University. He will intern at Google this summer.
Homeschooled from kindergarten through seventh grade, the Douglasville siblings learned independence and responsibility early on. "My mother started homeschooling us at the same time, when my brother was five and I was four," Monique explains. Though the two are not twins (Monique started school a year early and
graduated at age 17) they encouraged and supported each other as classmates, continuing to Veritas Classical Schools, Georgia Virtual School, and dual enrollment at KSU. This diverse educational background, William says, encouraged discipline, "which has been helpful to me in being able to structure my time when less structure is provided by others."
Monique and William each graduated from high school with a 4.0 GPA, and each completed 28 credit hours at KSU, including honors courses, Calculus I and II, and two science courses. Both earned impressive SAT scores. William scored 790 in Critical Reading and 760 in both Math and Writing. Monique earned a 720 in Critical Reading, 760 in Math, and 740 in Writing. "It was very helpful that I took the test multiple times," Monique explained, "as my score improved with each test."
Monique Bailey, 19, is a semester ahead in her Johns Hopkins coursework because of her DEHP credits. She urges students to "practice, practice, practice" to hone their interviewing and essay-writing skills.
Understanding the application process. The college application process was similar for both siblings. William attended an information session in Atlanta for Yale, which helped to demonstrate his interest in the college. The Yale application process included completion of the Common Application (an online application used by 500 colleges), submission of a five-paragraph essay as well as other shorter responses, and an interview with a Yale alumnus. For Johns Hopkins, Monique was asked to submit online applications, including several essays and teacher recommendations, and was required to complete personal interviews with school alumni. She was accepted not only at Johns Hopkins, but also at M.I.T.
When asked to share what she believed set her apart in the application process, Monique answered that it was a combination of factors including strong grades, SAT scores, essays and interviews. "I don't believe that any one aspect of my high school experience completely outweighed the others, but rather all of them together made for a strong application," she explained. William credits his dual enrollment, among other factors, for helping him stand out. "Dual enrollment at KSU was a good opportunity to gain experience with college while demonstrating that I could handle college work," he said. He believes his diverse coursework, including classes such as Biblical Greek, Rhetoric, Philosophy and Computer Science, which are somewhat unusual for high school students, also helped set him apart.
Tips for writing a strong essay. The college admissions essay is a source of anxiety for many students. William and Monique suggest several tips for writing strong essays. "The best essays are those that are personal," Monique advises. Whatever the topic, William emphasizes the importance of solid writing skills. "Use concrete examples," he recommends. "For example, if you want to say that leaders should be selfless, you might describe a situation where a leader stayed up till 2:00 a.m. to listen to someone who needed to talk." Using vivid vocabulary and active words and phrases when describing your accomplishments is also important, William says. "Rather than saying, 'I worked on a coding project,' you could say, 'I implemented a web application to do XYZ.'" He recommends looking up sample essay questions online and using these to practice writing five- paragraph essays, then sharing them with peers, parents and teachers for suggestions.
Surviving the alumni interview. Interviews with alumni are a common part of the admissions process for Ivy League schools. William's interview began with standard questions he expected about his background, academic record, and extracurricular activities. Other questions he was asked included, "If you had a free afternoon to yourself, what would you do?" and "Tell me about being a big brother," and "What would you consider to be your greatest strength and weakness?" William recommends that students seek out extremely challenging or unusual questions. "They can help you learn to think on your feet and feel more comfortable handling the unexpected."
In preparing for a college interview, both siblings stressed the importance of practice. "I am thankful that a member at my church offered to give my sister and me practice interview sessions," William said. William and Monique also conducted practiced interview sessions with their parents and with each other. Monique shared the importance of knowing key facts about the school in advance, and being prepared with questions to pose to the interviewer. Some sample questions that William suggested are: "Could you describe the culture and atmosphere of the school?" and "What are three pieces of advice you would give me if I got accepted to the school?"
Now sophomores, both Bailey siblings are happily settled in to their college routines. "I've enjoyed campus life so far!" William said. Yale divides its student body into 12 residential colleges, each with their own dining halls, dorms, "butteries" (snack shops) and other amenities. "I've made many friends within my college." He has also participated in a martial arts group, Christian organizations, and attended political debates. After graduating in Computer Science, he plans to pursue a career either as a software developer or a lawyer. At John Hopkins University, Monique has been involved in a student organization that hosts basketball games for local children at a community gym. She plans to major in Biomedical Engineering and is considering a career in pediatrics.
So how do classes at Yale and Johns Hopkins compare to classes at KSU? "Though some classes are more challenging than others," Monique says, "I find that my KSU experience has prepared me for the rigor of college level courses. The size of my classes are much larger than those at KSU, especially my science lecture courses, but the instructors at Hopkins are just as nice and personable as professors at KSU. My DEHP experience did prepare me for my college experience now. Not only was I able to experience college courses ahead of time, but I was also able to transition from being almost completely homeschooled to [now] living on a college campus." William has found that "the general theme of being responsible for your own work is the same." Although Yale does not accept dual enrollment credits from any college, "from an educational standpoint," William says, "it was good to have a year of taking college courses in DEHP to adjust to the college workload. The biggest differences I have seen are in the amount of reading, and the emphasis on critical assessment and analysis in readings and essays."
To help pay for college, Monique and William each won scholarships. Monique was awarded Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg scholarship, a merit scholarship awarded to students based on high academic achievement which pays for all four years of college tuition. Yale provides financial aid based on family income, and in addition to this, William received scholarships for $2,500 in 2012 and 2013 as a National Achievement Scholar and Capital One Diversity Scholar. He also received a $500 book stipend from Google for participating in their Computer Science Summer Institute, a summer program for high school seniors, and interned at Google last summer as part of its Freshman Engineering Practicum. He plans to return to Google again this summer as a general intern.
Through their work ethic and outstanding accomplishments, the Bailey siblings have demonstrated the dedication required to be successful at highly competitive universities. "To a large extent, the small things can set you apart," William shared on putting forth extra effort. "Have a well-rounded application by showing community involvement and dedication to an extracurricular activity," Monique added. William also shared the importance of exploring new subject areas in order to find one's passion. They both also reflect on their journeys with gratitude to those who helped them along the way. "I am very grateful to my family, especially my parents, for helping me grow and learn to be a successful student," said Monique. Of his sister Monique, William said, "I am thankful to have had her as a classmate and my 'running buddy' to encourage, help and work with me." - Liza Stepat
DEHP students excel in Fall classes
DEHP's 298 students earned an average GPA of 3.42 in their Fall semester 2013 KSU classes, in an average load of 9.8 credit hours. A record number (40%) earned straight A's in their classes.
Congratulations to the following students who earned a 4.0 in 9 credit hours or more in Fall semester and were named to the President's List. An additional 63 students earned a 3.5-3.99 in 9 credits or more and were named to the Dean's List.
Adairsville High School
Allatoona High School
Creekview High School
East Paulding High School
Etowah High School
Georgia Cyber Academy
Harrison High School
Hillgrove High School
Kell High School
Lassiter High School
North Paulding High School
Pope High School
Regina Caeli Academy
River Ridge High School
Veritas Classical Schools
Westridge Christian School
Woodland High School
Woodstock High School Rachel Zinney
2014 DEHP Graduates:
College Destinations and Scholarships
University of Georgia, HOPE & Zell Miller Scholarships
Madigan Lavery, Vanderbilt, Chemical Engineering major
University of Georgia, Hope Scholarship
Savannah College of Art and Design, $48,000 in scholarships
Mercer University, $72,000 in scholarships
Florida Institute of Technology, Biomedical Engineering major, $88,000 in scholarships
River Ridge HS:
University of Alabama at Birmingham, Nursing Scholars Program, $12,000 scholarship
Share your good news! Email your college acceptance and scholarship info to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jessica Riley, DEHP Outstanding Student, to be recognized at April Awards Ceremony
Jessica Riley, a Woodstock High School senior, was announced as DEHP's 2013-14 Outstanding Student in January. The award is determined by the highest GPA in the largest number of credit hours and honors classes. Jessica will be honored at the University Scholars Awards Ceremony in April, along with the top student in each KSU major. She began taking classes at KSU as a junior, and with KSU courses and AP credits, will graduate from high school with 45 college credit hours. She has earned a 4.0 GPA in her college coursework. She intends to major in Mathematics Education and teach in an inner city school.
Special thanks to the students who assisted with this newsletter:
Liza Stepat, KSU sophomore honors student, who wrote the feature articles
Natalie Tikhonovsky, homeschooled DEHP junior, who did the newsletter layout and compiled student lists
If you have a story about an interesting life experience or accomplishment, let us know, and we may write about you! Email Dr. Kinnick, DEHP director, at email@example.com. firstname.lastname@example.org.