STEMM Idol and the Spring Speaker

While it remains to be seen whether April showers will bring May flowers, the first full month of spring surely brought a barrage of guest speakers to CJ including Lauren Wagoner and Dr. Michael “Mykee” Fowler, who each spent a day with students raining down wisdom and insight.

To coincide with national Mathematics Awareness Month, the school welcomed STEMM Idol Speaker Ms. Wagoner, an Ohio State University Math major and Cyber Operations Masters degree candidate from the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT).  She plans to pursue a PhD in computer science this summer at Tulsa University, but told students on Tuesday, April 12 that her passion for numbers in high school is where her educational and career paths got their start.

“Math was my first love so I hope students realize that they can do a lot more with a math than just teaching or accounting,” she said, adding that college graduates with math degrees are very attractive to prospective employers for their sound fundamental skills in reasoning and logic. The field also translates well into the many arenas of computer science such as cybersecurity, a hot topic in today’s society according to Wagoner.

“Money is being invested in cybersecurity and the opportunities are endless,” she said. Cyber operations careers are becoming more prevalent in both the private and government sectors as electronic and wireless technologies continue to improve. In 2008, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security created an entire branch dedicated to matters of national cyber security to combat what President Obama termed, "one of the most serious economic and national security threats our nation faces."

“Your computer contains a lot of data and you don’t want it to be lost or stolen,” Wagoner warned. For students interested in the field, she suggested participating in the US CyberPatriot games.  According to its Web site, “CyberPatriot is the premier national high school cyber defense competition created to inspire high school students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.”

Actor and psychologist Dr. Michael “Mykee” Fowler put an energetic and entertaining spin on the traditionally somber subjects of suicide prevention and school bullying to effectively reach students during a school-wide assembly in the auditorium Monday, April 11.

“I’m here to help students understand that their differences are to be celebrated and not to be crossed out,” he said.  During his morning presentation, Fowler took on the persona of five distinctly different characters, from a wheel-chair bound boy with Cerebral Palsey to a multi-racial high school senior girl, demonstrating the understanding that can come from putting oneself in another’s shoes.

A message throughout his talk was “knowing the difference between what you’re supposed to do and what you need to do.” He challenged students to rise above social norms and stigmas that generally dictate behavior and instead make positive choices, even if they may not be the most popular.

“We are all superheroes,” he told students of their ability to make a difference in someone’s life. “We have incredible powers to hurt, but we also have incredible powers to heal. The choice is yours.”