The Society of Women Engineers at the University of Maine congratulated eight Maine high school seniors for attending and receiving the Certificate of Merit Award on Dec. 11 in an in-person masked event.

The award recognizes a female-identifying high school junior or senior who has achieved excellence in a science- or math-related activity and who has demonstrated science and mathematics courses with high distinction. McKayla Leary, a junior at the University of Maine at Orono studying mechanical engineering, helped produce this event as the co-chair of outreach for this chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.

“Certificate of Merit is a special opportunity where we, the University of Maine SWE Section, can recognize young women from around Maine for their accomplishments in STEM,” Leary said in a news release from UMaine News. “We aim to provide these young women with the opportunity to ask us any questions they may have, as well as build meaningful connections, not only with the members of our section, but also with our speakers, such as the dean of engineering and various faculty members.”

The recipients of the award are Georgia Cahoon of Noble High School in North Berwick, Emma Butterfield of Brewer High School, Amelia Plant of Hampden Academy, Mackenzie Wilson of Morse High School in Bath, Riley Simon of Freeport High School, Alaina Lambert of Winslow High School, Anna Arb of Maranacook Community High School in Readfield, and Blair Fortin of Lawrence High School in Fairfield.

Leary noted her commitment to inspiring leaders in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields: “We want them to know that their hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed by any means. We hold this event to congratulate them, as well as give them insight into what pursuing a STEM degree in college looks like.”

The event consisted of three guest speakers and a student panel from the university. The three speakers were Dr. Sarah Lindahl (representing the Chemistry department), Dean Dr. Dana Humphrey (representing the College of Engineering and specifically the Civil and Environmental Engineering department), and Danika Evangelista (a senior in biomedical engineering with a double minor in mathematics and bioinstrumentation).

The award is given globally to one junior or senior in each high school that participates in the award; this award can be recorded on college and scholarship applications.