Audrey Jaeger Named North Carolina STEM Champion

Audrey Jaeger studies graduate students and how graduate students make decisions specifically as these decisions relate to STEM careers. Dr. Jaeger is a professor of higher education and Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at NC State. She is also the executive director of the National Initiative for Leadership and Institutional Effectiveness.

Growing up in a rural community in North Dakota there were not many opportunities for a young woman interested in science.

“I think I was really interested in science but there wasn’t a role model or program to encourage me to do something about it,” said Dr. Jaeger. “So when my own daughter was excited about a note from school about the Science Olympiad program, I thought what a wonderful opportunity. We’re going to sign her up.”

Dr. Jaeger coached the Science Olympiad team for several years before seeing an opportunity to bring in STEM majors from her workplace.

“I work at an institution of higher education that produces STEM majors. And there are a lot of students that would be happy to volunteer with kids who want to give back already to their communities,” she said. “So it’s grown from a couple students who I knew to now on a regular basis dozens of students that are interested in volunteering and do commit to the program.”

Because of her volunteer efforts with Science Olympiad, Dr. Audrey Jaeger has received the 2018 STEM Champion award from the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center. She will be honored at the SMT Center Celebration on April 28, 2018 in Raleigh, NC.

“The STEM workforce should reflect who is in our community. I am not an engineer and I am not a scientist, but I know that a homogenous group of people around a brainstorming table don’t develop the kind of ideas that a really diverse table, different kinds of perspectives and different ideas, can develop,” she said. “If we are going to see a change, we have to hit the beginning of the pipeline because the end of the pipeline looks really bleak. But, if I start working with kids in elementary school, and just as many girls as boys are interested in chemistry, then I get really positive. I know the future is going to be better.”