The mission of American Association of University Women is to advance gender equity for women and girls through research, education and advocacy. One of the ways in which the Tehachapi Mountain Branch does this is by sponsoring local girls to attend Tech Trek, a residential science, technology, engineering and math camp.

The camps are designed to develop interest, excitement and self-confidence in young women who will enter eighth grade in the fall. They are run entirely by AAUW members, and feature hands-on activities in math, science and related fields. All sleeping, eating, instructional and recreational facilities are located on a university campus where camps are held.

Our selection process begins in the spring, with Jacobsen Middle School teachers nominating several outstanding seventh-grade girls for consideration. The girls are then required to submit an application, as well as an essay on a designated subject. This year’s topic involved how the girls would use math and/or science to make the world a better place. A face-to-face interview with an AAUW committee is also conducted, and the campers are then selected based on the above criteria.

The five girls selected by Tehachapi Mountain Branch to attend Tech Trek Camp this summer, at either UC Santa Barbara or Fresno State, are Caitlyn Chitwood, Grace Keller, Regan Rodriguez, Annaliesse Watkins and Serenity Whitman. The girls were introduced at a recent AAUW meeting, along with their families and guests. They were presented with backpacks, donated by Flex Ltd., which contained school supplies and personal notes of encouragement from branch members. A potluck luncheon followed.

Local corporate sponsors were also recognized at the meeting, including BHE Renewables, AST, Scaled Composites, and Tammy Engel. It was due to the generous donations by these sponsors that we were able to send five girls to Tech Trek this summer, our most yet.

Membership in AAUW is open to both men and women with a two-year or higher college degree. For more information, contact Joanne Beckett at 972-6508.

Linda Flores is the Tehachapi Mountain Branch, AAUW Tech Trek coordinator.