This month’s MVP for Iowa STEM is a true leading lady in “STEM for all,” powering momentum behind local, regional and statewide STEM efforts through various roles on and off the STEM Council.
Valerie Newhouse has led Iowa Lakes Community College for the last seven years, sharing some of her tenure as a valued and original STEM Council member who brings a higher education perspective from the community college sector.
“The STEM Council itself focuses its programming on Pre-K through 12 because we have a need for students to be prepared as they enter workforce or pursue higher education,” Newhouse said. “I serve to communicate with the rest of the STEM Council what works and what doesn’t as students are entering at the community college level.”
During the early years, her professional role and her STEM Council role had the opportunity to overlap when the STEM Council selected Iowa Lakes Community College as the Northwest STEM Regions’ hub institution. As one of six hub institutions strategically located in each of the Iowa STEM Network regions, Iowa Lakes Community College houses the Northwest Regional STEM Manager Molly Faber who serves the entire Northwest STEM Region on behalf of the STEM Council. Newhouse is the hub’s principal investigator who collaborates with the regional STEM manager to connect with the appropriate audiences in their region.
“Serving as a regional STEM hub institution is one of the most exciting things we've done because it has put a spotlight on northwest rural Iowa, and we've been in the forefront helping to facilitate the growth of STEM that is important to our region,” Newhouse said.
It was the perfect fit for Newhouse and her community college since their STEM efforts began several years before the STEM Council sprouted from Governor Branstad’s executive order in 2011. Newhouse says the college started a STEM committee in the mid-2000’s that included faculty members from their mathematics and science departments. Those early efforts led to a number of current programs, including an annual STEM camp for middle school students to explore STEM careers and educational pathways alongside college professors. It’s caused Newhouse to notice a transformation on her campus.
“It's neutralized the genders,” Newhouse said. “We don't see as many males versus females wanting to attend our STEM events anymore. We see as many young ladies interested and excited about STEM, and I think that will translate in a few years into more females in STEM careers.”
With that, we congratulate Valerie Newhouse on her success in helping move forward the priorities of the STEM Council. Our progress is made possible by the contributions of her and all of our outstanding STEM Council members listed at www.IowaSTEM.gov/Council.