ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Two Ascension Parish high school students spent two weeks of their summer vacation in New Jersey learning how to turn science into business opportunities. They were two of a select group of 20 people in North America picked for the prestigious program.
Cathy Do, a senior at East Ascension High School, is back on her home turf, brushing up on her math skills in calculus class. She has learned a lot in the classroom, but the experience she had this past summer let her explore her future, she says. "I wanted to do something that involves treating the skin because I have skin problems myself and I know others struggle with it too," Do said.
Do spent two weeks at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) at BASF's Science Academy. She and other students worked in teams to create their own personal care product and market it to a panel of BASF executives and FDU academic leaders.
"Our product was body lotion for females. It was called Awana, which means grace in Hebrew. Our slogan was, a touch of grace," Do said.
The senior vice president and general manager at BASF Geismar, Tom Yura, says the program gives students a taste of college and career experience. BASF covers the cost of the program, travel, room, and board. After a successful two weeks, the students leave with new skills and three college credit hours.
"It's a highly sought after, highly competitive program, so we are working with the Ascension Parish School District, with the career coaches on identifying those students that may really do well," Yura said.
Yura says two Science Academy alumni have been hired at BASF after they graduated college.
East Ascension High School Principal Traci McCorkle says she has seen the transformation students have made after two weeks at the academy. "We feel like those students who have taken advantage of that and who have been fortunate enough to be chosen have had experiences that have been once in a life time for high students," she said.
Do says she's already putting the skills she learned this summer to work. "I learned that if I try hard enough, I can do whatever I want, like speaking was a hard issue for me in the past and now I've improved on it," Do said.
Do plans to pursue a career in dermatology.
Kailyn Phillips, a senior at Donaldsonville High School, also graduated from the BASF Science Academy this summer.