Local Students Benefit from Haddix STEM Program

Local Students Benefit from Haddix STEM Program

A recent $10 million gift to Creighton University’s College of Arts and Sciences, described by University officials as “transformational,” helped transform the lives of two Omaha high school students this year.

Vincent Huerta and Sydney Westphal participated in the inaugural Haddix 24th Street STEM Corridor Program, completing award-winning research projects with Creighton STEM faculty over the summer. Both also enrolled as freshmen at Creighton this fall.

The Haddix 24th Street STEM Corridor Program is one of four initiatives funded by the gift from George Haddix, PhD, MA’66, and his wife, Susan, a member of Creighton’s Board of Trustees.

The program introduces top high school students in Omaha to the advantages of pursuing undergraduate studies in science, technology, engineering or math at Creighton.

Both Huerta and Westphal won honors for their completed projects at Omaha’s 2019 Metropolitan Science and Engineering Fair.

Huerta, a graduate of Omaha South High School, studied qubits — the quantum version of the classical computer “bit.” Westphal, a graduate of Omaha Central High School, focused her research on butterflies as important pollinators.

Westphal’s advisor was Theodore Burk, DPhil, professor of animal behavior, entomology and behavioral ecology in the Department of Biology. Huerta was guided by Thomas Wong, PhD, assistant professor of physics in the Department of Physics.

Westphal said the Haddix STEM program was “eye-opening.”

“It was such an amazing experience it made me want to come to Creighton,” she said.