Congratulate Xochitl on her recent achievement

April 15, 2015 author: No comments

Boeing scholars are always pushing their boundaries and inspiring those around them. We want to celebrate the recent achievements of one of our scholars, Xochitl Esparaza. Xochitl is a recipient of NCWIT (National Center for Women and Information Technology) Affiliate Award. Congratulations Xochitl!! Below, Xochitl shares some information about the organization and the application process for the award, and what it means to be a NCWIT affiliate awardee.


My name is Xochitl Esparza and I am currently a senior at Benito Juarez Community Academy. Recently, I became a NCWIT   Affiliate Awardee. The NCWIT is an organization that aspires to encourage women to pursue education in technology fields. Each year the Award for Aspirations in Computing is granted to current high school juniors and seniors. They also offer a similar award to undergraduate students called the NCWIT Collegiate award. Applications for the high school level are accepted from September 15 – November 2 each year.

The application consists of approximately four essays that ask about your leadership, interest in technology, aspirations and community involvement. Being a Boeing Scholar at IIT, I decided to talk about my experiences throughout this program. Along with the essays, I also had to write an autobiography and answer a couple of questions about my experience in technology. Questions such as “what, if any, programs did I take that were related to technology” were included. This application also requires references from two recommenders. If you plan to apply, make sure to give your recommender enough time to write you a great letter of recommendation. The application was pretty time consuming, and I made countless revisions in my essays. Luckily, my English teacher was able to help me out but I know the IIT Boeing Scholars staff is always happy to help!

Once you win this award, you become a member of the NCWIT community. Being in this community, you get to network with  other high achieving women. This also  gives access to a variety of opportunities such as scholarships, internships and other programs. I just joined their group on facebook and have already seen countless opportunities for women interested in technology! Overall, I highly recommend all female Boeing Scholars to apply.


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White House College Opportunity Day of Action: IIT Boeing Scholars Academy’s Commitment to Action

January 8, 2015 author: No comments

On Thursday, December 4th, IITWhite House College Opportunity Day of Action Commitment Report_IIT Boeing Scholars Academy Commitment Boeing Scholars Academy joined President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and hundreds of colleges, universities and organizations across the country in participating in the second annual White House College Opportunity Day of Action. In total, participants committed to over 600 actions to help students prepare for and graduate from college. Actions were aimed to address one of four broad aims:

  1. Increasing the number of career-ready college graduates
  2. Enhancing college readiness
  3. Improving access to highly-trained school counselors
  4. Strengthening STEM education

IIT Boeing Scholars committed to furthering its impact in strengthening STEM education, while supporting each of these other broad missions. IIT Boeing Scholars Academy’s approach connects STEM to community engagement, thus strengthening Scholars’ leadership skills, empowering them to pursue their passions, and aligning STEM with their values and identities.

As part of the White House Initiative, the IIT Boeing Scholars Academy announced its transformative results, including that 100% of high school juniors in the program reported increased confidence in their ability to impact their community through STEM-related activities after their first year in IIT Boeing Scholars Academy, and 98% of all seniors report increased confidence in their ability to succeed in college. 2014 summer program participants indicated a 32% increase (between post and pre-program surveys) in respondents strongly agreeing with the statement “I am motivated to improve people’s lives through my work in a STEM field.” These are significant results, and IIT Boeing Scholars Academy committed to match or exceed these measures with subsequent groups of scholars. News of the program’s results in pursuing these goals will appear in next year’s Commitment Progress Report from the December 2014 White House College Opportunity Day of Action.

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Field Trip: Science Works at the Museum of Science and Industry

December 8, 2014 author: No comments

On Saturday, December 6th, our scholars attended Science Works at the Museum of Science and Industry. Science Works is a museum-wide career fair that gives youth the opportunity to learn about jobs in the STEM fields directly from professionals. Over 40 organizations participated in the career fair, including Microsoft, Nicor Gas, and BP. Our Scholars came prepared with great questions for company representatives about their career paths, studies in higher education, and day to day job responsibilities.

Each organization offered an interactive activity for the Scholars to participate in. Science in Society, a Northwestern University office dedicated to science outreach and public engagement, had a microscope station for participants to examine and analyze their own cheek cells. Scholars also received a tour of a 747 Boeing aircraft from Boeing Company engineers who were tabling at the event–pretty cool! The Scholars were very excited to speak with Boeing company representatives about engineering careers and their experiences with our program.


Scholars and program staff with an engineer from The Boeing Company

After the career fair, Scholars split up into groups and explored the museum’s many exhibits. Among their favorites were the Anatomy Academy, Science Storms, and Future Energy of Chicago. We hope to make another trip to MSI in the near future and look forward to attending more career exposure events with our Scholars throughout the year.


Working in the Anatomy Academy

Scholars check out the tornado exhibit

Scholars check out the Science Storms exhibit

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New Announcements for BSA

December 1, 2014 author: No comments

Dear Inspirational Scholars, Families, and IIT Boeing Scholars Community,

I am writing to announce an exciting new update for the program: as of December 1st, 2014, Ms. Annie Senior will be the new Program Director of the IIT Boeing Scholars Academy! Since its founding in 2011, the IIT Boeing Scholars Academy has benefited from a plethora of individuals – serving as Program Instructors, Leadership Grant Project Mentors, Serving through STEM Partners, Program Coordinators, Program Directors, Faculty Mentors, interns, presenters, volunteers, and more – who have contributed to the program staff in their own unique ways and who dedicated themselves to supporting all of our Scholars to their utmost ability. This has led to a strong program that has consistently strived to learn and grow. I am proud to have served on this team, and I look forward to seeing the ways in which Annie leads the team moving forward.

From the moment that Vice Provost Gerald Doyle and I met Annie, we were impressed by her intellect and kindness, by her experience and aspirations, by her passions for learning and community building. She has dedicated herself personally, professionally, and academically to supporting educational access, in particular for those students who face barriers to the STEM+ fields, by having volunteered, worked, and done research with that very focus. Among a variety of experiences, Annie earned a Masters degree in Cognitive Psychology from Northwestern University, is an alumna of the AmeriCorps VISTA program, was a Mentor for Chicago Scholars’ College Launch Program, and received a prestigious grant from the National Science Foundation to research STEM learning in out-of-school settings. After meeting her and learning about her, we knew that she would be the perfect person to one day lead the IIT Boeing Scholars Academy.

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to still support the program directly and indirectly as I continue my work within Illinois Tech’s Office of Student Access, Success, & Diversity Initiatives, the department in which the IIT Boeing Scholars Academy is housed. While the focus of my work will be on other initiatives of the Vice Provost, my colleagues and I will continue to strive forward in support of educational access, students’ success, and the diversity that contributes toward strong learning environments – all of which ultimately support the work of the IIT Boeing Scholars Academy and its Scholars.

Join me in wishing Annie the congratulations she deserves as she transitions from Program Coordinator to Program Director of the IIT Boeing Scholars Academy!

All my best,

Megan Mozina


Annie_Headshot_square-1A message from Annie:

I am honored and thrilled to transition into the role of Program Director. Since I began working with the IIT Boeing Scholars Academy, I have been consistently amazed by the work of the Scholars, the support of their families and communities, and the dedication of IIT Boeing Scholars staff. Each day has provided new reasons to be inspired. I look forward to continuing the incredible work of Megan Mozina and all the individuals who make and have made the IIT Boeing Scholars Academy so successful. I am grateful for the opportunity to lead and serve this program.

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Job Shadow Day: Enbridge Pipeline Co.

November 14, 2014 author: No comments


On Tuesday, November 11th, our scholars invested their day off from school exploring careers in the energy industry. We visited Enbridge Inc.’s northwest Indiana offices and pipeline operations facilities. Scholars learned about specific job opportunities in the energy sector, while also grappling with broader questions about the role of energy in our environment and our lives. Scholars left with a more nuanced understanding of the energy-related issues our world and nation have only begun to address.


On a tour of Enbridge's pipeline and pump operations facilities | Griffith, IN

On a tour of Enbridge’s pipeline and pump operations facilities | Griffith, IN

Reflections below are submitted by Nate, 2015 IIT Boeing Scholar senior.

When you think of crude oil, what first comes to mind? Global Warming? Smog? Sadness? I entered Enbridge with a negative image of the industry, as all I really knew was that, on multiple occasions, oil has damaged our beautiful planet.

After spending the day with engineers and other staff at Enbridge, my opinion on the matter has changed. I can wholeheartedly say that a global shift away from fossil fuels is going to be necessary soon, but oil is a bigger part of our lives than many may think. Oil is in nearly everything we use—from cars to shampoo to computers— and is vital to our modern lifestyles.

Enbridge and I share the vision of implementing alternative energy sources ASAP, shown through their massive solar and wind power generation programs in Canada. Until an unlimited sustainable energy source is found, oil will remain necessary.

As always, the wonderful staff of the IIT Boeing Scholars Academy has provided my fellow scholars and me an amazing opportunity to explore the vast world of STEM careers, and for that I thank them.

So next time you are watching the news and hear something along the lines of “ALL THE POLAR BEARS ARE DYING BECAUSE OF FOSSIL FUELS,” try to remember what’s keeping your home warm, what your remote control is made of, and what keeps your hair smelling fresh!


A cold, rainy day couldn't keep us away.

A cold, rainy day couldn’t keep us away.

Second reflection: Hernan, 2015 IIT Boeing Scholar senior.

I have never put much attention to the fact that there are miles upon miles of pipeline underneath our feet. My trip to Enbridge has changed that. They showed us that the pipelines they install carry petroleum from as far away as Northern Canada. Enbridge helps distribute a large quantity of the oil in the Midwest. They also have pipe connections that distribute oil throughout the country.

It’s easy to take for granted petroleum’s many useful purposes that make all our lives much easier. From cooking ingredients to plastic bags, Enbridge’s services help our society function. The presentation at Enbridge’s offices taught us about the safety requirements, employment opportunities, and daily maintenance tasks that come with the oil industry. We also learned about the science behind the technology surrounding the transport of oil and how oil behaves while in the process of distribution. After the presentation, we toured the actual facilities. We got to see the large tanks where they store oil and the vast pipelines that are used to send the oil out across the country. We also got to meet engineers and faculty members ensure safety around the facilities.

We learned how Enbridge has worked to improve the reputation of their industry. Examples of that include maintaining record of all leaks, providing scholarship opportunities to students, and offering tours of their facilities to students such as myself. Opportunities like this will not only give the oil industry a better name, but it also gives students a glimpse at a career in this industry.

My experience at Enbridge has given me a perspective of what a career in the energy industry. Getting to see an oil company’s facilities was a wonderful experience, especially since many people rarely get to see the pipelines hidden underneath the ground. I have definitely learned many new things about oil and how it makes life as we know it possible.



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Going to College – Onsite Admissions 2014

November 7, 2014 author: No comments



It’s 7:45 a.m. All across the city, students are just arriving at school. High school seniors are groggily going through their first class or extracurricular, repeating routines they’ve done thousands of times. However, for hundreds of students from all across the Chicagoland area, this day is unlike any other. By 7:45 a.m. on Thursday, October 30th, 700 teenagers wait eagerly inside a ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel & Towers in downtown Chicago. Dress: professional. The mood: nervous, but filled with confidence and hope.


48 IIT Boeing Scholars from the class of 2015 attended this year’s Onsite Admissions Event, put on by the Chicago Scholars Foundation. Those Scholars experienced a long, exciting, and extremely rewarding day. They participated in 249 interviews with alumni and admissions representatives from 65 different institutions of higher learning, from as far away as Maine or California.

So professional.

So professional.

This was no standard college fair, as many scholars received on-the-spot notice of their admissions to the institutions with whom they were interviewing. IIT Boeing Scholars received 125 offers of admission, with the promise of more on the way. Many also received merit scholarship awards with their acceptance letters — $3.68 million in scholarships, to be precise.


A great start to the day!

A great start to the day!

Celebrating Acceptance #1 with Annie and Megan from IIT Boeing Scholars.

Celebrating Acceptance #1 with Megan and Annie from IIT Boeing Scholars.

After an early interview resulted in an acceptance, an IIT Boeing Scholar was overheard exulting, “I’m going to college! And they’re giving me money to get me there!” This joyous scene replayed over and over throughout the day. Scholars celebrated with one another, debriefed difficult interview questions, and efficiently used lulls in the day to complete their homework.

Homework completion: also worthy of celebration.

Homework completion: also worthy of celebration.

IIT Boeing Scholars also made space for fun in the midst of a hectic day. Scholars kept the student room upbeat and energized at lunch, starting an impromptu dance party that spread throughout the entire ballroom and giving everyone a lift before heading into afternoon interviews.

Lunch break = dance break.

Lunch break = dance break.


Some scholars had interviews starting at 8:30 am and didn’t finish their last interview until after 5 pm. Throughout a tiring day, rife with emotional highs, Scholars kept each other focused and motivated, just as they have been doing since their first day in the program over a year ago.

Xochitl: Going to College

Scimone: Going to College.

Scimone: Going to College.

Michael: Going to College.

Michael: Going to College.

October is a month when many high school seniors across the country are still stressing about taking standardized tests and submitting college applications. They’re working diligently, yet most will not receive offers of admission for 2-6 months. After the Onsite, scholars from the IIT Boeing Scholars Academy can take a moment to reflect on something people have been telling them their whole lives: they’re going to college.


Kristen: Going to College.

30 colleges that might enjoy the presence of IIT Boeing Scholars Academy alumni next year:

American University George Washington University Marquette University
Arizona State University Illinois Institute of Technology Michigan State University
Bradley University Illinois State University University of Missouri
Butler University Illinois Wesleyan University Monmouth University
Case Western Reserve University Indiana University Bloomington Ripon College
Columbia College, Chicago University of Iowa Roosevelt University
DePaul University Iowa State University University of Illinois at Chicago
DePauw University Lake Forest College University of Minnesota
Dominican University Lehigh University University of Wisconsin-Madison
Elmhurst College Loyola University Chicago University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee


We're going to college.

We’re going to college.


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Program Instructor, Kaela Gerald, writes about the Ethics Bowl

October 17, 2014 author: No comments

Kaela’s cluster preparing for the Ethics Bowl.

Right. Wrong. It Depends. To me, these make up the three way junction at the end of the ethics road. On this journey, I believe the scholars found a better definition for ethics and learned why it was important.

Ethics has to do with what is right or wrong.” “Ethics has to do with people’s moral beliefs.”  “Ethics consist of standard behaviors that is accepted by society.” These are some answers I got from my cluster as we prepared for the annual Ethics Bowl that took place during the second week of the program. The Ethics Bowl is an exciting, competitive tournament aimed to model the best methods of reasoning in practical and professional ethics. The scholars gained a valuable experience of analyzing two cases and participating in an ethical discussion. One of the things that stood out to me, was how the Ethics Bowl was different to a debate. The scholars were asked to take a position on 1)Whether nations, especially those who contribute the most to pollution, should be required to take in climate change refugees from regions facing rising sea levels and 2) The creation of a new charter for a Finnish School of Chicago, as a member of the Chicago Board of Education. Unlike a debate, the scholars took part in more of a back and forth discussion in the support of their positions. This required listening to key points of the opposing team and not only disagreeing politely, but acknowledging the points of agreement. In addition, asking intuitive questions for clarification and support.

I admired the format, rules, and process of the Ethics Bowl. It allows one to be aware and to give thoughtful consideration to different viewpoints. To be successful, having a plethora of different viewpoints is essential to deciding the most ethical conclusion. During the preparation time, I asked each scholar in my cluster to state their position with reasons, for both cases. We then collectively decided on pros and cons for each case. These tactics seemed to aid the scholars tremendous as the competed. They were able to give insightful responses, specific to ethical considerations asked by their opponents and the judges.

The theme, “STEM Diplomacy” was definitely present throughout the Ethics Bowl. Scholars learned how to disagree diplomatically and with respect, a life skill they should always carry with them.


Kaela Gerald - Program Instructor

Kaela Gerald

Kaela is pursuing a Co-terminal degree in Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. She is from the Caribbean Island of St. Lucia.

Kaela enjoys going to the beach, dancing and cooking. She hopes to make a difference in the world through advances in science and engineering, mentoring and helping others. As a program instructor, for summer 2014, she felt truly inspired by all the IIT Boeing Scholars and staff.


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Welcome New Program Coordinator – Luke Chitwood!

October 7, 2014 author: No comments


My name is Luke Chitwood, and I’m thrilled to be writing today as the newest member of the team at the IIT Boeing Scholars Academy.

I’m a recent transplant to Chicago from New York City, but originally from Little Rock, Arkansas. My wife Ashley and I relocated to Chicago to be closer to our families, and because we found the city a diverse and fascinating place. Through several changes in scenery, I’ve maintained my love of the buttery, cheesy, fried goodness that is most Southern cooking (no meat though, I’ve been a pescetarian since my junior year in college). To make up for that, I stay busy biking, climbing, doing yoga, and occasionally forgoing the CTA and walking several miles home instead.



Before moving to Chicago, I taught high school science in Brooklyn and the Bronx for several years, and I had the opportunity to serve as my school’s college counselor. I’d always been passionate about empowering students to succeed, meet their potential, and access the opportunities they deserve. As a college counselor, I got to exercise those passions and see students achieve incredible results in finding and attending schools that fit them well.

The college admissions process is intimidating but also rewarding. When you apply to college, you get to craft a narrative, telling a story of success and personal growth – your story. With the IIT Boeing Scholars Academy, I’ll get to focus on drawing out each scholar’s unique skills, talents, and interests. We work within the context of STEM, building our scholars’ capacity to pursue the most exciting, fastest growing, and cutting-edge fields. Schools want scholars like ours – sharp, insightful, brilliant, creative, and technically adept. I get to help scholars identify the schools and courses of study that fit them best. I can’t think of a more inspiring or fulfilling way to spend my time.

I left NYC incredibly inspired by my students, and I’m confident I’ll find even greater inspiration here with the IIT Boeing Scholars Academy. Scholars, you have the skills, talents, and drive to make incredible contributions and change in your neighborhoods, your city, and your world. I’m here to help.

A few random facts about me:

  • For fun, I love visiting new neighborhoods and exploring the city where I live – especially if there’s an opportunity to try new and interesting food. Any recommendations on your favorite places to eat will be gratefully and enthusiastically received. I also enjoy cooking almost as much as I like eating, and I’m always trying to imitate something I’ve tried in a restaurant or seen someone else make.
  • Whether working, eating, or cooking, you’ll also likely find me with a cup of coffee in my hand. My mom introduced me to coffee when I was 1, because she wanted someone to drink coffee with. I have no memory of life without coffee, and that’s just fine with me.
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The IIT Boeing Scholars Academy: Affecting the changes we want to see in the world, one scholar at a time.

October 2, 2014 author: No comments

Program Instructor, Josh German, shares his experience of the IIT Boeing Scholars Academy:


Josh German and his scholar cluster

Have you ever gotten involved in an activity or championed a cause to make a difference in the world? We all have those things we do to have an effect or change the world in some way or form. But sometimes we face the challenge of not immediately seeing the impact of our efforts in the society. People are very different and some of us are patient enough to see this change come to life in years to come but others really want to see that change happen now. This impatience in itself is not a weakness but just a thirst to enjoy the gratification of your efforts. There are hardly many great things we do in life that reward us with some relatively instant result or effect but the Boeing Scholar Academy program is not one. To write about the lessons learned and accomplishments of this program on the staff members and scholars would be quite a masterpiece with pages and pages of unique anecdotes. I am not writing a master piece today but just a small window into my experience of tapping into that embodiment of that change we want to see in the future.

For some reason, I have always had peers say “I want to be like you when I grow up” and I have never really understood why they said that and maybe I never will but I always laughed it off as a joke “Really guys? I still use my eating gestures to differentiate between my right and left directions”. But none of those previous utterances could prepare me for, a scholar saying “Josh, you are my role model and I want you to know that”. I still consider myself as a growing adult who tries to put a comic spin on any situation and with many more years of experience to come but that statement basically allowed me rethink my whole identity as person and my stage in life today. And even though I still try to tell lame jokes, it gave me a sense of responsibility that could no longer allow for me to just be careless in my ways, words and actions because I knew from that point I was being looked up to as a point of reference by most of my scholars. My words and action can no longer be that of a young college student but that of a leader I wanted to see in the future. My actions had to mirror that of an advocate for the changes I envision in a future of a very diplomatic, innovative and selfless population. Basically everything from how you associate with others to how you handle challenging situations makes an impression on the scholars.  The great sense of gratification came from the opportunity to watch the scholars develop over the 4 week summer period, and with each new day you noticed a gradual birth of a role model within them as they soak up your knowledge, and that to me was all the instant gratification I needed to press on each new day. I have always wondered how I would make impact on the world, but I have come to realize that it is such a big task that I alone cannot achieve. But with the opportunity to be a role model for these scholars, I could envision my actions and that of other instructors shaping the forefront of the future by affecting it from the roots. By acting as a role model to each scholar, we were creating an army of role models that can embody principles and values to affect the world positively.

Josh is a third year engineering student pursuing his Bachelors and Master’s degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at IIT through the Co-terminal program. He is from West Africa Nigeria, and is motivated to be an engineer who will inspire change through his career and deeds. As a program instructor for the Boeing Academy Scholars this summer 2014, he had the opportunity to impact scholars positively while being inspired by their uniqueness.

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Program Instructor, Ryan Kamphuis, Writes About LGPs

September 19, 2014 author: No comments

Ryan Kamphuis talking to scholars during the LGP Mentor Match Event.


One of the unique opportunities afforded to IIT Boeing Scholars is the chance to work on a Leadership Grant Project (LGP). In an LGP, a team of rising Juniors comes together to address an issue that faces their community.

During the Summer Program our scholars began their LGP journey by identifying community issues that they are interested in taking on and narrowing these many ideas down to eight projects they will work on. This year our Scholars chose to tackle topics ranging from community violence to high school dropout rates to responsible use of social media. Our scholars chose these topics over the course of several workshops which had them conducting research into the issues that face their communities. Many of the issues our scholars took on hit close to home; they’ve been personally affected by these issues and wanted to step up to make sure things are better for future generations. It was inspiring to see the strength shown by these scholars as they began to address these issues. This determination to improve their communities gave me a real sense of hope for the future of Chicago. These fantastic students have the ability to touch many, and inspire many more to carry on their work. It is truly amazing.

In the coming weeks, our LGP students will partner with community leaders and mentors who will guide them through their project and help them achieve their maximum potential – I truly can’t wait to see where these scholars go!


Ryan is a fifth-year Physics Education student at Illinois Institute of Technology and was an Instructor for the 2014 IIT Boeing Scholars Academy Summer Program. In his free time, Ryan mentors several local FIRST Robotics teams and is involved in the leadership of Illinois FIRST. In the future, Ryan hopes to teach high school physics in Chicago and help inspire the next generation of science and technology leaders.


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