High school senior project morphs into non-profit

November 27, 2019


An Olentangy Orange High School senior project that aimed to draw girls into STEM (science technology engineering and mathematics) has turned into non-profit. Ashwin Rajkumar began the “Be the WISE Initiative” project with the idea of focusing on getting elementary school girls interested in STEM.

The project is a result of a Global Scholars’ final project. Rajkumar put long hours of research. With direction from faculty and staff at the high school and classmates stepping up and volunteering, the cause moved from an idea into reality.

The group is in the Olentangy School District elementary schools, informing students about career paths in STEM. From being an astronaut to research, careers can be endless. He said that the idea came to him from observation.

“I was heavily involved in STEM,” Rajkumar explained. “That’s when it hit me, ‘How come I’m not seeing more girls in our classes and how can I not see their creativity from their side too?’” Ashwin Rajkuman (center) stands with two student volunteers.

During his research, he said that he noticed a lot of women are majoring in STEM classes in college, but were dropping out or changing their focus of study, because they were under-represented. He realized that the high and middle schools in his district already had established programs through The STEM Academy and even summer camps. After all, he is a product of those.

“My aspiring dream is to become an aerospace engineer someday. I’ve had a long passion for that career ever since the seventh grade,” said Rajkumar. “So I said what are they doing at the elementary schools? Nothing.”

That was his target demographic. He explained that if he could get girls interested in STEM at a young age, they would track it through middle and high school.

“I know you won’t see that effect for a long term, but I’m willing to wait it out and keep powering through,” said Rajkumar.

Rajkumar created social media pages through Twitter and Instagram for the effort. There, you can see him and his group of volunteers showing and telling the options of STEM when they visit local schools.