Boone County Board Honors Two Local High Schools Students
The 2021 Chicago Exelon Foundation STEM Leadership Academy took place July 11-16, 2021 for local
female students, and two (2) young women from our community participated! This weeklong Academy
empowers high school students to pursue STEM careers and address climate change – it is part of
Exelon Company’s larger commitment to supporting the students in their service area, especially those
that are underrepresented in STEM and energy careers.
For the 4th annual Academy, 60 girls participated in virtual educational seminars and discussions as well
as hands-on workshops with STEM kits delivered to their homes. This year’s Academy has a focus on
the growing impacts of climate change and the disproportionate ways it is affecting the most
under-resourced communities. The Academy culminated with students’ presentations of their own
energy-efficient product prototypes. These students are extremely motivated and represent the future
of our community and the energy industry.
Denise Godinez and Soyna McClain, from Belvidere High School and Belvidere North High School
respectively, participated and represented the Boone County community well. This year’s Academy
focused on the global climate crisis—fostering a dialogue with our next generation of leaders and
introducing them to STEM careers that address climate change issues. Both young ladies participated in
a virtual week-long curriculum that will incorporate a series of climate-focused STEM challenges,
learning sessions, conversations with leaders in STEM fields and exposure to Exelon employees. The
week culminated in a hands-on Energy Innovation Challenge, which both young ladies received $200
each to participate in. Sonya was part of the VAAS Solutions group whose plan was to make an app that
tracked the energy used to make the food you eat. Denise part of Tadashi Project. They created a
product called Aria. Aria is a drone that filters the air as it flies around.
The STEM Leadership Academy Scholarship program launched in 2021. This program offers a select
number of STEM Leadership Academy Alumnae a 4-year full-ride scholarship and summer internships