Palm Coast, FL – The Daytona Beach, Flagler, and New Smyrna branches of American Association of University Women (AAUW), through their partnership with Daytona State College, awarded Ms. Makayla Parsons of Palm Coast their 2021 S.T.E.M. Scholarship. Since 2014, these branches have worked together to offer women attending Daytona State College a $750.00 scholarship so they may pursue Science Technology Engineering and Mathematical (S.T.E.M.) related educational and career opportunities. This year’s recipient exemplifies the pursuit of a S.T.E.M. career while setting an example for the next generation.
One of three finalists, Ms. Parsons’ career and educational goals, along with recommendations from Dr. Jennifer Bell, Associate Professor, Chemistry and Associate Chair/Director, Environmental Science Technology at Daytona State College, demonstrate why she was selected as the winner for the 2021 AAUW S.T.E.M. Scholar of the Year. Intrigued by popular television shows like NCIS and Criminal Minds, and the characters portrayed in these series, Makayla Parsons conducted research with regards to the specific degree requirements for Forensic Science and Forensic and Criminal Psychology. Crime scene investigation and lab analysis became her passions.
Since her tenth-grade year at Matanzas High School, she has been dual enrolled at Daytona State College (DSC) with a goal of transferring to the University of Central Florida (UCF) to pursue her double major. Ms. Parsons is the first in her family to attend college and will continue with her studies at DSC through the Spring of 2021. She works part-time, attends school on a full-time basis, and gives back to her community through the Science and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) clubs at DSC and by volunteering at food pantries, beach clean-ups, and Rise Against Hunger food packing initiatives while a member of the Matanzas Interact Club.
Whereas Ms. Parsons demonstrated a humbleness with her essay responses, Dr. Bell wasted little time in chronicling the tenacity embraced by Ms. Parsons during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students like Makayla faced hurdles such as online forums to complete their terms. According to Dr. Bell, Ms. Parsons, “worked extremely hard and earned an “A” in each section”. In addition, she was elected as President of WISE in the middle of the Spring term rather than the beginning. This greatly reduced Ms. Parsons time to prepare for her role as President; nevertheless, she not only persisted, she excelled! Makayla Parsons “moved her new club onto an online gaming platform… organized guest speakers and offered webinars through the discord server”. She conducts weekly club meetings and provides virtual tutoring for students. Typically, dual-enrolled students are not eligible to serve as President of WISE. Ms. Parsons is a “true force” and not only deserving of the title of President, she truly exemplifies the trailblazing skills needed to be this year’s AAUW STEM Scholar of the Year.
The mission of American Association of University Women (AAUW) Flagler strives to advance the education of women and girls in Flagler County and elsewhere.
Martha Butler and Patti Paukovich, Co-Presidents
Media Release: AAUW Flagler, Kim Medley, Publicity/Social Media