Amber Mills, The Citadel
A junior pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering, Cadet Amber Mills has devoted herself to enhancing high-risk students’ literacy and access to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). With increasing community involvement each year, she blossomed into an exceptional contributor and leader in community engagement. As a SUCCEED Fellow, Cadet Mills contributed more than 300 hours of summer service with high-risk youth from Title I school programs, primarily African American children living in poverty. Amber and her team broke through longstanding cultural barriers to truly engage the children, families, and staff of a local housing authority program. They documented reading grade-level gains in 100% of the students who participated and sparked an excitement and strength of collaboration that has sustained the partnership. Amber also led pilot processes for teaching students key science and engineering concepts through hands-on activities. Her paper describing the assessment of the pilot program’s impact has been accepted for presentation at the 2015 Southeastern American Association for Engineering Education meeting. Her reading and STEM programs directly impacted the students with whom she worked as well as helping others who will be empowered in the future by sustainable programs she helped to create.
-John Rosa, President
To help share the invaluable gift of education, I have given over 300 hours of service to the surrounding communities in the hopes of enriching children’s passion for learning. Although my focus was on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) I also helped develop a summer reading program that had a 100% success rate for increasing student’s reading levels, thus sparking a love of all forms of learning in the next generation.
When I was asked to help design the STEM program, I reflected upon my own experiences with the challenging and at times intimidating engineering field. I remembered the events and people that changed my attitude towards STEM and vowed to use the same inspiring approach. We designed a STEM program that was hands-on, inexpensive, and easy to reproduce. By using household items, we showed not only the children but also the parents and teachers that STEM is nothing to fear, but an important and interesting part of life. On the days when I am super busy and nothing is going right, working with the children and hearing them talk about their aspirations to go to college or do well in school makes every effort worth it.