Expanding her horizons: Student attends workshop at West Point Military Academy

Published 5:20 pm Tuesday, July 2, 2024

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By Ayanna Eckblad

School has been out for many weeks, but for some students, learning does not end because the calendar says it is summer.

One example of this is 15-year-old Bridget Pestorious.

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Last month she attended a special STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — workshop for high school students at United States Military Academy West Point.

According to the United States Military Academy West Point’s website, “The Center for Leadership and Diversity in STEM organizes and runs the West Point middle school and high school STEM workshops. Each summer, middle and high school students from across the United States are invited to come to West Point for a week-long hands-on STEM workshop.”

It also explained the goal of these workshops is to help students increase their knowledge of STEM-related subjects to improve their skills through high school and college and to pursue careers in STEM in the future.

Pestorious is an active member and leader in the Owatonna Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. She said she learned about the workshop when she received an email from Civil Air Patrol informing her about the opportunity and including a link for her to apply. She decided to go for it.

“I had to do a video of myself kind of saying … why I wanted to go, and write an essay and answer a couple questions about myself,” Pestorious said. There were hundreds of applicants, but Pestorious was one of the 120 selected to participate.

Pestorious traveled to New York, and was excited to see all of the different opportunities the workshop had to offer.

There were different workshops and activities planned throughout the day, Pesorious said. She attended sessions on subjects like civil and mechanical engineering, robotics, mechatronics, general relativity, math and other STEM areas.

“Some of the subjects were a lot harder than I was expecting them to be,” she said. She also said that she had to get back into the mindset of learning during the workshop because school had been out for a while.

Pestorious said she met a lot of other students while at the workshop, which included participants from 38 different states. She plans to keep in touch with some of them.

“Meeting new people was really fun,” she said, “especially because there were people from so many different places that we were all so different.”

Pestorious said her future goal is to attend the United States Air Force Academy to study aeronautical engineering, eventually pursuing a career as an aerospace engineer in the Air Force.

In addition to Civil Air Patrol, Pestorious participates in golf, clay target team and FFA. She enjoys water skiing and used to be on the Bayside Ski Team.