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STEM Camp Nurtures Sisterhood and College Dreams

By YWCA Minneapolis
September 14, 2022
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When you’re a YWCA Minnepolis Eurekan, summers are for college! And, that’s saying something — because our Eurekans are still in high school or just a year away!

Life on Campus

For four weeks this summer, late June through July, 8th and 9th grade participants in Girls Inc. Eureka! got to experience campus life steeped in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) studies through the College of Science and Engineering Student Services at the University of Minnesota. But that’s not all. While they met with STEM professors, Eurkans also delved into heady subject matter that they’ll carry with them well into adulthood.

Nurturing the Whole Young Person

YWCA Minneapolis Girls Inc. manager Cindy Vue says, “They explored critical topics related to healthy relationships, consent, values and identities as well as mind and body wellness.” Swimming at YWCA facilities is part of the summer camp experience, too. But what sets this camp experience apart from others like it is the meaningful sense of belonging: “We nurture young girls, trans, non-binary and gender-expansive youth interested in STEM fields while creating a sisterhood that uplifts them.”

“We began this kick-off with a warm welcome, going around sharing our names and pronouns and developing our community guidelines. Our mission is to honor the whole youth, the whole person. Academics is one facet of growth, but there is so much more to all of us and we see that and address that with our participants.” – Cindy Vue, Girls Inc. Manager

The Heart of the Matter

On the academic front, a highlight that awed Eurekans was the opportunity to see and to hold the tangible side of lifesaving measures. That happened while touring the Visible Heart Lab with Dr. Paul A. Laizzo, as they took in the 3D printing of heart stents. Our youth got to engage, as cardiologists do, with lifesaving technology that keep hearts beating.

“I never thought about a career as a heart surgeon, but after seeing the Visible Heart Lab, I want to learn more about it!”

In their own words

Camp culminated in celebratory reflection, with Eurekans inviting their families to hear about their summer experiences and what they gained. Here are some of the insights they shared.

“I realized that I want to have a good relationship with my colleagues throughout my career, one where I can always ask for help if needed.”

“I’m proud of gaining the confidence to ask and answer questions.”

“Hopeful. The U of M and Eureka! made me have hope for my future!”

“Happy. I found so much joy this summer!”

“I think that this week was amazing. I met a lot of new people and experienced some fun new things.”

What’s Next?

Next summer, our current 8th graders will get another camp enrichment at the University of Minnesota, while current 9th graders will follow in the footsteps of this year’s 10th graders, embarking on internships at work sites such as the University of Minnesota Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, Boston Scientific, Snapology, Bakken Museum and University of Minnesota Department of Plant Pathology. Here’s what the 10th graders who just wrapped up summer internships had to say:

“During my internship at Snapology, I was able to connect with the kids to the point where they came to me for help and they felt comfortable enough to give me hugs and tell me about their day, good or bad. This made me feel proud ’cause I want them to feel comfortable and safe so they can grow and become amazing people.” – Eureka 10th grader

“In my experience at the University of Minnesota Agronomy and Plant Genetics department, I learned that I like learning—about genetics.” – Eureka 10th grader

Who’s Next?

Current 7th graders who will be rising 8th graders next summer will be eligible for consideration in the next class of Eurekan! recruits. Know anyone in the class of 2028? The time to sign up will be January and February of 2023. Mark your calendars!

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