Future scientists, engineers and doctors were honored last week by the University of Missouri–St. Louis’ College of Arts and Sciences. Thirty-six St. Louis-area high school juniors received a Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in Science at the inaugural ceremony held March 2 in the Millennium Student Center on campus.

Students, their parents and teachers were treated to dinner, a performance by the Dickson String Quartet and various speakers prior to receiving their awards.

“Accomplishments in the STEM disciplines represent an essential component for America’s future,” said Ron Yasbin, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “As a nation we need to nurture and support those students who will be the leaders in advancing our knowledge of those disciplines. By honoring students who have demonstrated truly outstanding capabilities in the sciences we are helping to reinforce the importance of these areas of study and research.”

STEM refers to the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.

Mary Pulio, 16, who attends Visitation Academy in Town and Country, Mo., said she was honored and surprised when she found out she was nominated and chosen as an award winner.

Anne Wolf, chair of the science department at Visitation, attended the reception with Pulio and her parents.

“It’s always a super experience to have someone like Mary represent our school,” she said.

Science teacher Venus Spain Walker from Cardinal Ritter College Preparatory High School in St. Louis beamed as she talked about the student she nominated, Ajhia Ellis.

“She is one of my best students,” Walker said. “She studies hard, works to understand concepts and is very enthusiastic about whatever she does.”

Ellis plans to go to college and enter a pre-medicine program.

“I’m very humbled (by the award),” Ellis said. “I love science because there is always something new to discover.”

Yasbin said the night was a success and UMSL plans to hold the event next year.

Kylie Shafferkoetter

Kylie Shafferkoetter