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At age 12, Brittany Horwath and Andrea Marten spent a week at UW-Stout. They shared a room in a dormitory, attended classes and ate meals in the dining hall.
The girls also built robots and participated in activities based on science and engineering concepts as part of STEPS — Science, Technology and Engineering Preview Summer program for Girls.
Horwath and Marten didn't know each other prior to STEPS and didn't stay in touch after the week ended. However, that changed when they ran into each other again. The young women, unbeknownst to each other, had returned to UW-Stout as college students.
Now juniors, they still are involved with STEPS as counselors. "Since working for STEPS, I've been happy that I could give back the same experiences I had when I went through the camp, which makes working for STEPS worth it," Horwath said.
Horwath, of Siren, heard about STEPS from her sixth-grade teacher and was intrigued, she said. Seven years later, she chose the university in part because of her experience with STEPS and also from attending a basketball camp on campus.
"I also heard wonderful things about the university that made me feel that UW-Stout was a great choice for me," said Horwath, who is majoring in graphic communications management, which has been renamed cross-media graphics management.
Marten, from Dodgeville, followed in her older sister's footsteps when she chose to participate in STEPS. "She had attended STEPS three years previous, so naturally I wanted to be like her and go to camp," Marten said.
Marten, majoring in psychology, also choose UW-Stout because of STEPS — as a camper and counselor — and from her experience working on campus as a lab assistant.
"I knew my way around campus and felt comfortable here, and from the other campuses I visited it was my favorite," she said.
Marten sings the program's praises. "It was one of the best experiences I have had; I met so many young women that I hope to see succeed in the STEM field in their future," she said.
She also relishes the experience of seeing a girl transition from homesickness and lack of interest to enthusiasm and reluctance to leave at the end of the five days.
What started as an adventurous week for two 12-year-olds has turned into something two young women can apply to their careers.
"I was exposed to many different cultures, upbringings, attitudes and personalities," said Marten, minoring in human resources. She thinks the experience and increased knowledge will prove helpful in human resources.
Horwath chose her major because of the diverse opportunities. "I'd also like to think that STEPS influenced my career path because I have, since STEPS, been interested in the technical side of my program," she said.
Applications are being accepted for the 2014 summer
programs, which begin in July. Learn more at the website.