Apply now! Free UH Hilo summer program inspires high school women to explore STEM studies and careers

The Women STARS Program addresses the gender gap in STEM-related career fields, while growing Hawai‘i’s technology and innovation sector by inspiring local women to pursue related careers.

Group of students gather for photo with Maunakea in the background.
STARS students on Maunaloa. The group is the 2019 summer cohort. (PISCES/UH Hilo)

By Susan Enright.

Applications are now being accepted for a summer program aimed to inspire high school women to explore studies and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—the STEM fields.

Photo of moon with words "PISCES WOMEN STARS, STEM Aerospace Research Scholars."The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems, commonly called PISCES and housed at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, will host the eighth annual Women STARS (STEM Aerospace Research Scholars) Program the week of July 15–19, 2024.

Interested students are encouraged to apply by Sunday, June 9.

The free immersive program will engage students in a diverse range of activities such as exclusive behind-the-scenes tours at leading science facilities, hands-on workshops covering coding and technology, and presentations by accomplished women in STEM.

Chris Yoakum pictured.
Chris Yoakum

“STARS is all about showing young women what’s possible for their futures,” says STARS coordinator Chris Yoakum, who is a UH Hilo alumnus with a bachelor of arts in communication.

“We aim to foster a supportive environment where students can explore their interests, connect with mentors and mentorship opportunities, and learn about what STEM careers are really like from women who work in them,” Yoakum says.

STARS is open to Hawaiʻi high school women ages 14 and up and is offered at no cost to participants. Meals, accommodations, and on-island transportation are all covered.

“We want to eliminate barriers and provide equal access to STEM education,” says Yoakum. “Our hope is that participants leave the program with a new perspective and inspiration to pursue their dreams.”

PISCES, now housed at UH Hilo’s College of Natural and Health Sciences, launched STARS in 2014 and offers the one-week program every summer (there was a hiatus during the pandemic). The program aims to address the existing gender gap in science and engineering-related career fields, while growing Hawai‘i’s technology and innovation sector by inspiring local youth to pursue related careers.

For more information on how to apply for this summer’s program, go to the STARS program website.

UH System News.

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Story by Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.

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