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PMSA Students Study at Urbana-Champaign’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

Five Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy students are expanding their reach, exploring the sciences, and developing greater interests in engineering careers. These students are participating in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences’ Research Apprentice Program (RAP).

Students from around the country participate in RAP. The program is two-fold. RAP I is an intensive three-week career exploration and academic enrichment experience which focuses on career awareness activities related to business, science and engineering career pathways in  the food, human, and environmental science fields. RAP II provides an intensive seven-week laboratory and academic enrichment experience for rising high school juniors and seniors with interests in those same fields. Students are placed in laboratories where they conduct projects designed to build their interest in math, science, engineering and business.

PMSA juniors Nicholas Tarleton, Leea Driskell, and Joseph Murray participated along with PMSA seniors Charles Grigs, and Charles Murray. They all say the program has opened the doors for opportunity and set them on a path to success.

“The best part about RAP is all of the opportunities you get from it,” said J. Murray. “It sets you up for life. The instructors and professionals there remember you from your research and that opens the door for internships and jobs.”

PMSA juniors Nicholas Tarleton and Leea Driskell both participated in RAP I. Tarleton was on a team sponsored by Quaker Foods. Their project focused on testing various formulas of Quaker Chewy Granola Bars to determine which was preferred by consumers. His team won an award for Outstanding Team Presentation and he also won an award for Team Leadership. Tarleton used the experience to connect with friends and to learn more about his ideal career.

“It was great hanging out with my friends from PMSA and meeting other people like me,” he said. “I was in the program with other people who like to challenge themselves, and it really opened my eyes to my future career in food sciences.”

Leea Driskell was on the team that worked with Archer Daniel Midlands (ADM) Company. Their project focused on business and the supply chain in the agricultural industry. Her team took several field trips including one to the trading floor of the Chicago Board of Trade.

PMSA seniors Charles Griggs, Joseph Murray and Charles Murray all participated in RAP I last year and completed RAP II research projects this year. Griggs and Charles Murray both had mentors in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Griggs worked on a project in the area of food engineering with the National Soybean Research Laboratory, comparing the characteristics of soymilk made from hulled versus unshelled soybeans. Joseph Murray was mentored by a student in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition to complete a research project on antioxidant levels in various foods and beverages. Charles Murray researched effective techniques for developing bio fuels from native Midwestern grasses. He received two awards for Outstanding Presentation and Overall Scholarship in the program.

Overall PMSA students say they gained real insight into their future careers, had great opportunities for networking, and were able to grow stronger in science and math. They also left quite an impression on University of Illinois staff.

“After getting to know all five students from Proviso Math and Science Academy through this summer program, it would be great to have more students from the school participate in the future as well,” said Dr. Laura West who worked with the students at the U of I. “I was really impressed by their poise in interacting with company and university representatives as well as her insightful questions.”

Congratulations Students! We’re so proud of you. Keep up the great work!

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