A Letter to Students from Bethany Verkamp, BS ’15, Biology

Bethany Verkamp

I was fortunate enough to be a part of the first STEM@Arkansas class at UCA. Living in a STEM@Arkansas resident opened the door for me to many great experiences. Through this program, I was given the opportunity to help teach science lessons to local elementary students with Prof. Horton, our resident master. I loved getting and helping others while being able to share my love of science.

In 2013, I was able travel to Rwanda, in teaching these very science lessons, along with several other residential college students. Through UCA’s Gusangira Project*, I was able to teach elementary Rwandan children exciting, hands-on science lessons and to help a local village to build safer and more efficient stoves for cooking.

I graduated from UCA in May, but the opportunities given to me through STEM@Arkansas and professors like those in the residential college program still affect me today. I was recently able to take what I learned from STEM@Arkansas and the Gusangira Project to a group of students at a small orphanage in Guatemala. I loved seeing the joy on their faces as they hurried to put the lids on their “film canister rockets” or showed us their bracelets representing the water cycle. I am currently working with a group from Fort Smith, Arkansas to bring the stoves we helped build in Rwanda to a small village in Guatemala. I will always be thankful to the STEM Residential College in Arkansas Hall and all of the experiences that it has led me to. Through STEM@Arkansas, I have gained great mentors, friends, and amazing opportunities to serve others.

*Gusangira is the Kinyarwanda word meaning “share.” The Gusangira Project is the umbrella name for “Science & Society in Rwanda,” UCA Residential College program’s service-learning, study abroad initiative.