Mekha George is One of the WISEST

Holy Redeemer High is extremely proud to announce that one of their grade 11 students will be taking part in the University of Alberta’s WISEST Summer Research Program.

Mekha George was ecstatic to hear the news that she will be joining some of the brightest high school minds at this prestigious summer camp. “I’m really excited to take part in this program,” she says. “I’m excited for the experience, and to meet so many other students who have similar interests as me.”

WISEST stands for Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology and is designed for high school female students who have an interest in one of the science-related fields. The program usually accepts only 40 students per year, however due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they could only allow 21 students this year. This makes George’s acceptance all the more prestigious. “About 200 students applied to the program,” she says.

George applied to the program as she wishes to have a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) after high school.

The WISEST program is a summer research program at the University of Alberta that will see students specialize in different science-related fields by gaining some hands-on experience. Participants in the program will learn about the techniques and types of research conducted in the different STEM fields, connect with and learn from successful professionals in these fields, develop key professional skills, and contribute to trailblazing research. With that, some students will be helping the university with lab research, others may work in computer sciences to assist with different research projects, while others may use their skills to help businesses.

Over the summer George will be a student researcher and be placed in the Computer Sciences Department. From there she will be working with other students to create a computer program to help individuals learn Cree (nehiyawewin). Within the main project, George may work with other students and help to build a collection of Cree resources, complete basic website programming, and work at translating a location-based mobile application into Cree. “This is going to be really challenging, but I am excited to learn so much,” she says.

The program is usually a 6 week program that sees the students stay on campus at the U of A. However, changes were made to accommodate the current world conditions and this summer the students will be taking part in the program virtually from their homes over four weeks in July. The program will take about 20 hours a week with students breaking out into meetings using Zoom.

When asked if she was disappointed by the changes George was very mature with her perspective. “This is an amazing opportunity,” says George. “I’m so lucky to be taking part in it and I can’t wait to learn so much.” George added that this program fits perfectly into her future career plans of becoming a Computer Engineer. “I hope to go to the U of A after high school. They have one of the best computer engineering programs in the country. Knowing this really adds to the importance of the program.”

The students, staff and school community at HRH could not be prouder of George. And no one is prouder than Biology Teacher Becky Gantz. “This will be a once in a lifetime experience that Mekha will be representing the Holy Redeemer Science Department,” says Gantz. “She is a thoughtful and dedicated young woman and the WISEST program is lucky to have her.”