All Nations students to advance to Albuquerque in science fair

Gabe Bethke, Staff writer

Science is not necessarily most students’ favorite subject in school, but here at South it’s one of the many highlights of the All Nations program. Recently, three South students qualified for the annual National American Indian Science & Engineering Fair held this year in Albuquerque NM. Senior Juana Espinoza is a grand award finalist, and her classmates, seniors Michelle LaGarde and Micah Hill are alternates.

“My project this year was about how teen moms continue to get support from the resources provided to them by different people and organizations” said Espinoza, “it was definitely a lot of hard work!”

The 2012 science fair is Espinoza’s 4th, and this year is the first time she has been nominated to go to a national conference.

“In my category this year there were 20 different projects, and I got selected to go to the national fair in Albuquerque that’s coming up soon,” said Espinoza, “it was also really cool to be able to go to Pittsburg and meet all the other people in my category for a preliminary fair and talk to the judges who were all giving me the numbers of people that could help me with finding a good job.”

“I’ve known for a pretty long time that I want to be either a doctor or a scientist, and this fair gives me an opportunity to do that,” continued LaGarde, “Most people didn’t take the science fair very seriously right off the bat in their freshman year because it’s required, but people kept telling me that it would give me so many opportunities. That has definitely happened, I mean I wouldn’t be where I am now if I wasn’t.”

LaGarde is not alone in her warm sentiments toward the science fair, the organization behind the expo,  American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES), makes it their mission to “substantially increase the representation of American Indians and Alaskan Natives in engineering, science, and other related technology disciplines,” according to their website, aises.org.

“It’s great that we’ve had so much success,” explained LaGarde, “and I mean at the end of the day it helps me get to where I want to be, but also helps people change how they think of Native kids. We can be just as good at school as anyone else, and it’s really important for us to celebrate that.”

While the organization will completely pay for Espinoza’s trip to New Mexico, her alternate partners LaGarde and Hill are not so fortunate.

“It’s sort of unfortunate that we can’t go as easily, but we still are really trying to make it out [to the fair]” said LaGarde. LaGarde said that raffle tickets will be sold for “Soundset paraphernalia” including tickets to Soundset and T-shirts. Their goal is to raise $3000. “We are gonna try and raise money so we can go and observe just to see what that kind of an experience is like,” explained LaGarde.