Haddix STEM Corridor Program Welcomes 13 Omaha High School Students

Haddix STEM Corridor Program Welcomes
13 Omaha High School Students

By Emily Rust

On the first day of the Haddix STEM Corridor Program, Omaha South High School junior Maria Hernandez watched as Julie Strauss-Soukup, PhD, BSChm'93, professor of biochemistry, drew a DNA helix. Hernandez's eyes lit up: Science has always been her favorite subject.

Hernandez is one of 13 Omaha high school students who spent eight weeks immersed in the fields of science, technology and mathematics at Creighton, this summer, through the Haddix STEM Corridor Program.

"This initiative is important because it will nurture the individual interest of each student, expose them to current research practices in different disciplines and encourage them to pursue their STEM interests in college and beyond," says Kayode Oshin, PhD, assistant professor of chemistry and director of the program.

The program is made possible by the recent $10 million gift from George Haddix, PhD, MA'66, and his wife, Susan, to the College of Arts and Sciences. Following an application process, selected juniors from Omaha North, Central and South high schools were invited to campus and paired with a Creighton faculty member in their field of interest. At the end of the program, the students submitted a final report on their research findings and gave a poster presentation.

"I'm really interested in biology, so I wanted to see if working with professors and doing research would be something I'd be interested in doing as a career," says Gabrielle Push, a junior from North.

Push worked with Carol Fassbinder-Orth, PhD, associate professor of biology, to research colony collapse disorder (CCD) to explain why honeybees are leaving their home hives and never returning. It's a perfect project for Push who, during the school year, studies with the Zoo Academy, a partnership between Omaha Public Schools and Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.

"Science and technology are moving everything forward," Push says. "Exploring what's unknown is so important. That's why STEM is important - to keep moving forward."

"I think it's important to study STEM because it allows us to know why things are the way they are," says Xzavier Herbert, a junior at Central. Herbert worked alongside Nathan Pennington, PhD, assistant professor of mathematics.

Herbert hopes the program will help him in his career aspirations of becoming a theoretical mathematician.

"I'm looking forward to learning more about what I'm going to be studying," Herbert says.

Hernandez spent the summer in Strauss-Soukup's lab looking at messenger RNA.

"I'm looking forward to the experience in a lab," says Hernandez, who has her sights set on becoming a biomedical engineer. "There's always something new you can learn."

Participating in the Haddix STEM Corridor Program is the first step on that path.

Below: High school scholars show their research results to Dr. Haddix

Male high school student explaining his research poster

Female high school student explaining her research poster