WISE holiday celebration reflects the wisdom of living, learning in community

By Jack O'Gorman

At the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) integrated learning and living community’s annual Thanksgiving celebration Nov. 12, 24 WISE students — including some seniors from the WISE house in the student neighborhood — played games, shared conversation, and had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Among the topics of conversation over turkey and all the trimmings: an upcoming chemistry test.

This intentional fellowship among students for social and academic support is an application of the Marianist principle that education happens best when it takes place in community. The WISE ILLC is a first-year community of scholars studying science and engineering. The benefits include social, professional, and academic engagement: having a study buddy on the same floor, attending a professional development event, taking some of the same classes, and doing service together such as helping elementary-school students learn about science. WISE seniors offer tutoring for first-year classes and help organize social and service events.

The program has seen strong success indicators in both GPA and retention from the first year to the second. After spending their first year in the WISE ILLC, students are encouraged to get involved with other science and engineering activities on campus such as the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Beta Beta Beta (the biology honor society), or student chapters of professional organizations such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

After receiving encouragement and support through WISE, many students have graduated from UD and gone on to medical school, graduate school, and a variety of science and engineering professions.

— Jack O’Gorman, a faculty member in the University Libraries and an adviser for WISE, co-founded the program in 2010 to support women in STEM fields.

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