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May 16, 2007
Twenty-three high school students were recognized May 16 for their exceptional achievement in math, science and technology. As members of the University's Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program, these students were rewarded for an outstanding effort to prepare for their future.
"It is amazing to see how a student, who does not have many of the advantages that other students do, work hard and progress," said Lauren Perron, northern Nevada MESA coordinator.
MESA, designed to increase the number of ethnic minority, low income and first generation college bound students, was established in Nevada in 2003. The program is based on other successful MESA programs in states such as California, Arizona and New Mexico. Although the program is relatively new, it has already shown success in helping students prepare for college.
"We currently have some students who graduated from our high school program that have started college with great success," Perron said "We have also seen small successes such as an increase in GPA for the students from before they enrolled to after they enrolled."
MESA currently runs three after-school programs at Hug High School, Sparks High School and Clayton Middle School. While at the program, students receive tutoring and hands-on experience with science, math and engineering. The program also puts on two socials and two field trips per year.
According to Perron, the teachers who advise the programs recruit students through their schools. The only requirements for students are to show up and participate. University students are also available to tutor the students in subjects in need of special attention.
Perron said the program has helped student achieve goals they previously believed were not attainable.
"One of the students in the program has tried numerous times to pass the math proficiency exam and was unable to," Perron said. "When he got involved in our program and received the tutoring and help he needed, he passed."
At the awards banquet, 18 students received a certificate of excellence and a check for $50. These students participated in at least 85 percent of the MESA program throughout the year and maintained their overall GPA.
Five other students received $25 or $10 to reward their participation in some MESA activities including the Science Olympiad, a competition in Las Vegas. Every student also received a backpack, a shirt and a baseball cap.
"They really get excited about having the money," Perron said.
Perron, who has been working for MESA since 2005, said the program is as rewarding for her as it is for the students.
"Working for MESA is like a dream job because I really get to impact the lives of students through the work I do," Perron said.
MESA also recognized benefactors including Terry Lee Wells Foundation, The Sierra Area Health Education Center, the Nevada System of Higher Education, The National Science Foundation, The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research and the University's College of Health and Human Sciences and Undergraduate Research Program.