Kara Vanderwest has received the 2021 WAA Champion Award for her amazing contributions to facilitating an inclusive environment within the club. After joining in the Spring of 2021 as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, she was overwhelmed by support of her peers in WAA. During her membership, she strived to be inclusive of minorities and raise awareness of pronouns to make LGBTQ+ people feel comfortable.
“I’m very proud to represent WAA and the University and promote aerospace to everyone to have an equal chance and feel like they belong,” Kara said. “This support we create is very meaningful to me and other students joining, but especially to LGBTQ+ students who can often feel like they might not belong in these spaces.”
In addition to helping other students feel included, Kara helped promote aerospace to prospective STEM students by volunteering at Aerospace Day and leading presentations on STEM opportunities. She has demonstrated a dedication to promoting aerospace education that has resulted in increased membership in WAA. Through her tutoring classes, she has supported underrepresented groups in engineering by helping freshmen get acclimated to their new coursework and lead them to success. She is highly deserving of the WAA Champion Award for making WAA a more inclusive community while promoting aerospace engineering.
This support we create is very meaningful to me and other students joining, but especially to LGBTQ+ students who can often feel like they might not belong in these spaces.
“Aerospace Engineering has a large problem of lacking diversity and the only way to change it is from the bottom up and getting people interested,” Kara said. “I’m dedicated to promoting aerospace and helping other students succeed in the field by sharing my advice and my passion for aerospace.”
Kara Vanderwest is a senior receiving her Bachelor’s of Science in Aerospace Engineering. In addition to her membership in WAA, she has also been a member and Production Manager for MASA, an engineering project team, for four years.