By Taylor Conley
For many Tempe Prep seniors, analyzing the past few years of your academic career and trying to find a major that fits you best can be very challenging. Although TPA has a strong reputation in humanities and liberal arts in its curriculum, many students do not recognize the strength of Tempe Prep’s math and science curriculum. Many of the 2021 graduating seniors have a deep appreciation for STEM through their high school and junior high careers and will join over half of TPA’s graduates that major in STEM fields in college.
Senior Sama Allam plans on majoring in mechanical engineering with a full-ride scholarship at Carnegie Melon University in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. It was an especially difficult decision initially for Sama to apply for engineering since it is the STEM field with the least amount of women, coming in at only 20 percent. She decided on mechanical engineering because it allowed for the most creativity.
Starting out at TPA, Sama was not familiar with the scope of her capabilities in math and science, so it took a while to understand that she was a lot better than she thought. In 10th grade, TPA’s math teacher, Dr. Wallington encouraged her to apply for the Joaquin Bustoz Math-Science Honors Program at ASU, which gave Sama a whole new view of opportunities in STEM.
To underclassmen girls thinking of majoring in STEM, Sama assures that “TPA is a pretty hard school, so if you’re able to grasp the information you learned here, I don’t think there’s anything you can’t learn in college.” Additionally, Sama suggests joining TPA’s Math Society and keeping updated on STEM opportunities.
Grace McQuaid, also a Tempe Prep senior, is planning on majoring in aerospace engineering with a focus on astronautics. Back in seventh-grade pre-algebra class, the premise of math and solving problems was intriguing to her. She particularly enjoyed the idea that there is only one solution to each problem with countless ways to find that answer.
Grace emphasizes the importance of having “great teachers who are enjoying what they teach” in developing a greater love for the field during her time at TPA. Over the years, Grace has been sure to keep up on anything related to space discovery, inspired by all the new discoveries yet to be made.
Weighing acceptances and big scholarship offers at Cal Poly San Louis Obispo, Arizona State, University of Arizona, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Grace recommends going deeper into fields you are interested in and reaching out to TPA faculty and alums who studied majors that interest you. To add, she suggests that rising juniors attend college visits that Tempe Prep’s College Counselor, Mrs. Moffitt. puts on for high schoolers to get more information on colleges that may fit them and ask questions about specific STEM studies. She emphasizes that “it’s not a bad thing to be invested in STEM,” and that you should not be afraid of asking questions about fields that interest you.
Overall, the TPA Class of 2021 has proved to have a wide range of interests and strengths, with a surprising amount of students invested in STEM fields. One
About Tempe Prep: Tempe Preparatory Academy is a tuition-free public charter school in Tempe for students in grades 6-12 that provides a nationally acclaimed liberal arts education based on the Great Books of Western Civilization with an exceptional math, science, foreign language, humanities, and fine arts curriculum. Tempe Prep has been recognized by the Arizona Board of Regents as having the highest percentage of college graduates in the state and has been named the #1 high school in Arizona by Newsweek (America’s Top High Schools 2016). For more information about enrolling at Tempe Prep, visit the school’s website at tempeprep.org.