Students at the high school often take STEM programs for granted. In some areas, however, these programs are less available, particularly for young women.
To combat this, senior Natalie Winland said she created a STEM program at Waggoner Road Middle School in Reynoldsburg her junior year to give minority girls more opportunities, as well as a scholarship fund in order to help students go to college.
Winland said she applied for a grant from The Leaders of Today, a fund for Central Ohio student organizations, to start the nonprofit.
She explained that the nonprofit began with 15 girls and expanded to 100.
“After I ended with that amount, I knew there was more I could do,” she said.
As of now, she said she raises funds for other school districts to implement STEM programs for students.
Winland said a significant moment in her activism path was the summer after her sophomore year, when she went to the Central Ohio Leadership Academy. There, she was inspired to start her journey and create her nonprofit program, she said.
“It helped me realize that even though I’m in high school, I can still make as big of a difference as an adult,” she said.
Winland said she previously lived in Reynoldsburg, so she recognized how Bexley differed from other communities.
“I was opened up to different ways of living and educational systems, so I wanted to use the opportunity I was given and pass it on to other people who haven’t been so fortunate in their education,” she said.
Winland believes students at Bexley take advantage of the opportunities they are given, while students in other communities are less fortunate.
“We take for granted what we are offered in Bexley, so being able to pay some of that forward is my motivation,” she said.
Winland said her mentor from The Leaders of Today gave a great piece of advice that has stuck with her.
“My mentor told me to jump right in, start; don’t wait until tomorrow or next year because it’s a long process, so the sooner you get into it, the more it will become manageable,” she said.
Winland added she wants to be an aerospace engineer and work in international relations, combining her social activism with her passion for science and engineering.
“One day, I hope to work for NASA,” she explained. “They have international projects they are working on. I think it would be incredible to unite people through STEM and space innovation.”