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May 12, 2017

WISER STEM Reaching New Heights!

WISER girls at work in one of our science labs
WISER girls at work in one of our science labs

Nimone, one of WISER’s most recent alumni, is tired of hearing that girls can’t succeed in the fields of science and engineering.

Her whole life, Nimone has been told that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are subjects for boys. Now, she’s drawing the line.

Nimone is currently working as a teaching intern at a school where she is the only female teacher. She is also the lead teacher for physics at the school, and she has this message for her peers at WISER that want to pursue a career in STEM:

“Don’t listen to people that tell you that science is hard, that science is just for men, that science isn’t for you…Don’t stop working. You deserve to study your passion!”

Nimone is one of many STEM-based success stories to emerge in 2017, and an incredible example of the culture of excellence surrounding STEM on WISER’s campus.

Only one month ago, WISER girls competed in the Migori County Science and Engineering Fair against 360 eligible schools. Despite the tough competition, an incredible eight projects were chosen from WISER to proceed to Kenya Regional-level competition. WISER was ranked as the #1 Girls School in Migori and the #3 school overall, making a powerful statement about the ability of young women in STEM.

Dorcas Oyugi, WISER’s principal, links some of this mind-boggling success in STEM competitions to the resources that WISER has recently provided for its girls.

“The new science lab has given space to expose our girls to real applications of science. We have full dissemination of knowledge from our practicals for every science subject. The new computer lab means that over the next year, the girls will know everything from basic computing and data collection to photo editing and data analysis.”

These successes are more than just results to celebrate – they are signs of a shift in what people believe girls can do. Girls can win engineering competitions. Girls can lead Physics departments. Girls can excel in computing and data collection.

We know these things because we see them happening every day on our campus and in our community.

This summer, students from Duke University will give WISER’s STEM opportunities yet another exciting boost. Over the course of two months, Duke volunteers will offer a robotics workshop that includes an introduction to basic computer programming as well as hands-on exercises for WISER’s engineering and innovation club.

WISER is committed to continuing to grow its STEM opportunities for girls in Muhuru Bay. We believe that every girl, as Nimone says it, “deserves to study her passion.” And STEM success for WISER means building opportunities that would make Nimone proud.

Thank you for being a part of building those opportunities for Nimone, her classmates, and the girls that will learn at WISER for generations to come.

Principal Dorcas celebrates WISER
Principal Dorcas celebrates WISER's STEM Fair win
WISER alum Nimone
WISER alum Nimone

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Feb 13, 2017

Outmatching the Giants: WISER Expansion Completed!

Reading the news before class in the new library
Reading the news before class in the new library

In August, we told our wonderful supporters that the WISER Girls were writing Op-Eds about the upcoming campus expansion. Fifteen students wove their hopes and dreams for the new campus into beautifully-written prose. 

And now that the expansion is finished, we've asked WISER's principal, Dorcas Oyugi, to relay her thoughts on the new campus.

Said Dorcas, “How can I put that much excitement in words?"

It seems that the new campus is a bit overwhelming for everyone at WISER and we wouldn't ask for it to be any other way.

The WISER campus now houses two science labs, a massive assembly hall, an all-new library, sixteen homes for WISER staff, and the best computer lab in the region. It's an amazing sight to see as what was once a dirt plot less than ten years ago is now home to a girls secondary school that rivals many Kenyan universities.

"The girls are so enthusiastic about their new spaces. The library, the science labs; they have our girls celebrating, but this is exciting for everyone," said Dorcas. "I've heard guests say that we are outmatching the giants - the top performing schools in Kenya - in what we have for our girls. It's unbelievable that these resources are available in a place that is this remote."

One such resource that has the students particularly excited is the computer lab, monitored by new WISER teacher Edwin Okongo. He believes that the computer lab is not just a sign of the expansion's success, but an opportunity to break a long-standing gender gap in computer science representation.

"In any area with poverty, you're going to see access problems. It kills the morale, the desire to understand technical sciences," says Edwin. "Society, on top of this, favors male students in access to computers, and even in the university statistics, most of those studying information technology are male."

"Giving this chance to the WISER Girls is a chance to expose a new generation of female students to computing technology that was denied to them."

WISER has always been about providing empowering opportunities for girls. This expansion, and the programs that accompany it, are just the latest step in our journey toward providing all of the resources a girl could need to be educated, healthy, and in control of her own life.

None of these opportunities that we've created along the way would be possible without your support. We can't thank you enough.

Because of WISER's supporters, even our youngest students have the opportunity to dream big. Joan is a first-year student at WISER, and just joined the campus a month ago.

Her aspirations are big, and that's right where all of us want them to be.

"Right now, I'm just starting," said Joan, "but learning computer operations is exciting. I'd like to be more connected. Maybe I will soon write and send letters to friends, and then continue to grow from there. Teacher Edwin says we will do photo editing, and I'd like to be doing that soon."

WISER Girls at work in the new Computer Lab
WISER Girls at work in the new Computer Lab
Computer Skills class time
Computer Skills class time
New WISER Assembly Hall
New WISER Assembly Hall
Jan 20, 2017

A Special Story to Celebrate AWF & WISER's Success

AWF Riders support WISER during the RAAM
AWF Riders support WISER during the RAAM

When the partnership between AWF and WISER first began, we set a goal of raising $30,000 via the GlobalGiving platform through hard work, advocacy, and sharing our story.

Today, we are closing the AWF-WISER project on GlobalGiving after surpassing our target by more than $8,000. And although this single GlobalGiving project has closed, the partnership between WISER and AWF goes on as strong as ever!

As a thank you to all of you from across the globe that supported this partnership, we’d like to share a special story of success from the WISER Class of 2016, which has just completed Kenyan national exams and looks hopefully to the future.

When Lucy entered WISER’s assembly hall to begin the national exam that would determine her academic future, she did so fearlessly.

“As I walked with courage, determination, confidence, and commitment towards my (exam) after a period of 4 years at WISER, I was hopeful that I would be among the victors come 2017.”

And among the victors she would be. We’re thrilled to announce that Lucy is one fourteen different WISER Girls that have qualified for fully-funded university education in Kenya. As an academic trailblazer in her family, Lucy knows that her success comes from responsibility and hard work, and she’s welcomed that fact with open arms.

“The harder I’ve worked, the luckier I’ve been – I’ve become a brilliant young lady, a great footballer, and a role model student to this Muhuru Bay community and to my siblings …I’ve had roadblocks. Everybody has them. But obstacles don’t have to stop me.”

Looking back on her time at WISER, Lucy has two groups of people that she believes drove her to success:

Her teachers: “I’m happier than anyone in the world to have this bright future through the loving, concerned, caring teachers that have equipped me with my skills and knowledge.”

And you.

“Through all of the support from our well-wishers and donors, I’m so happy. How grateful I am to be a WISER Girl! Thank you to everyone that made this real!”

We share Lucy’s appreciation for what you’ve done to support WISER via AWF and GlobalGiving. What you’ve done is make stories like Lucy’s go from impossible and rare to a new standard of excellence for young girls in Muhuru Bay. We can’t thank you enough!

Should you wish to continue to support WISER, please join our other GlobalGiving project located here: https://goo.gl/dSOvWm

With much gratitude and hope for the future,

Zack Fowler

WISER Managing Director of Programs

Lucy enters her national exam
Lucy enters her national exam
 
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