WISE program receives national grant

Courtesy Photo / Laurie Witucki
Members of the WISE group pose for a photograph during their field trip on a boat

Courtesy Photo / Laurie Witucki Members of the WISE group pose for a photograph during their field trip on a boat

Chelsea Stoskopf

Grand Valley State University’s Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program received a $4,257 grant in December 2010 to further its multi-level mentoring initiative this semester.

“It is to enhance the programming that’s already being done in WISE,” said Ashley Nickels, assistant director of the Women’s Center. “This past year, WISE went from being first-year only, small learning, living center to being in one of the new spaces and being multi-year and much larger (with) more people involved. This grant allows us to take some of the opportunities that we don’t want to miss with this growth and then apply them.”

The grant, a Campus Action Project (CAP) grant, was given to GVSU by the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Only 11 colleges and universities from across the country, including U.S. territories, receive the annual funding.

Kate Farrar, director of the leadership program at AAUW, said each grant recipient submitted a proposal for a project that would contain one of the key recommendations from its most recent research report.

“We are really looking for programs this year that certainly are focused on mentoring and promoting the relationship between students and professionals,” Farrar said. “That is one of the things that (GVSU)‘s proposal really did.”

Each college and university receiving this grant must complete a semester-long project before the National Conference in Washington, D.C. in early June. A representative from each institution will present at the conference.

Laurie Witucki, faculty director of the WISE program, said GVSU will use the grant money to buy books for a community reading project, to create and sustain a community and multi-level mentoring program within WISE and to buy supplies for the year-end science demonstration at a local middle school. Witucki and Nickels co-signed the application for the grant in October 2010.

“We really felt that was a great, unique project that created a multi-level interaction,” Farrar said. “That was one of the most compelling aspects of the program.”

Witucki said part of the money funding the community within WISE comes as a result of a new living situation this year. Since 2006, the members of WISE lived in the Ella Koeze Weed Living Center. They now live in the new South C apartments.

“Anytime you move into those more modern housing units, you lose a little bit of community and a little bit of interaction with the students,” Witucki said. “That is why this grant was kind of perfect timing for us.”

Overall, Witucki and Nickels said they look forward to this semester-long project and the further collaboration between WISE and the Women’s Center.

“This is an excellent opportunity to break through the barriers that still exist for women and girls in science technology, engineering and math,” Farrar said. “We are just thrilled that we can support this type of mentoring at Grand Valley and what it can really produce for the relationships and supporting women as they pursue these fields.”

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