Alumni in Focus

Robb Morgan ’06 is ASM Materials Education Foundation National Merit Scholar

Robb Morgan ’06 graduated from Masconomet Regional High School this year. The ASM Materials Education Foundation selected Robb as the 2010 ASM Materials Education Foundation National Merit Scholar. He was selected based upon his outstanding academic achievements, the diversity of his activities, and his interest in pursuing a career in materials engineering.

“My interest in materials science and engineering began before I even knew what the field was called. I did my first experimental materials research during the summer after kindergarten. I made bricks, molding them in flower pots and drying them in the sun. I tried different starting materials – sand swept off the driveway, rich earth from the garden, and clay dug from under the topsoil. I tried adding different sized rocks, or leaves or grass, seeing what effect each one had on the strength of the final product. Eventually I grew bored of bricks, but my curiosity has never wavered. I am excited to have the opportunity to keep following my interest at Caltech, and I am so very grateful to the ASM Materials Education Foundation for this support.”

More than 1.5 million juniors in over 22,000 high schools entered the 2010 National Merit Scholarship competition when they took the 2008 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. In September 2009, some 16,000 semifinalists were designated on a state representational basis, in numbers proportional to each state’s percentage of the nation’s high school graduating seniors. Semifinalists were the highest-scoring program entrants in each state and represented less than one percent of a state’s seniors.

Each finalist presented an outstanding academic record; was endorsed and recommended by the school principal; confirmed the qualifying test performance on a second test; and provided an essay describing activities, interests, and goals. All Merit Scholarship winners are being chosen from the group of academically talented finalists.

Robert’s BC calculus teacher states, “I have taught BC/AB Calculus for ten years and Robb may be the singularly most gifted student I have ever had. The combination of intelligence, intuition and technical cleverness is unmatched among students that I have had… Robb has an enthusiasm for learning that is infectious and is not one to boast of his abilities. If I was starting a new venture company, Robb would be the first person I would hire.”

The ASM Materials Education Foundation has been participating in the National Merit Scholarship Program for over 40 years.  The National Merit Scholarship Corporation is a not-for-profit organization with a portion of its scholarship activities underwritten by some 500 independent corporate, college and foundation sponsors like the ASM Foundation.

To find out more about the ASM Foundation programs, contact Jeane Deatherage, Administrator of Foundation Programs, at 440-338-5151 ext. 5533, or jeane.deatherage@asminternational.org.

Kara Ganley ’87

Kara Ganley lives in East Los Angeles and teaches biology and anatomy and physiology at Belvedere Middle School, a 6th–8th grade school with about 2000 students. The population is 99.8% Latino, which is representative of the East LA area. Ninety-nine percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. The school feeds into three high schools, including the famous Garfield High School where Jaime Escalante, whose story was depicted in the movie Stand and Deliver, taught math.

karaganleyssstudentsWEB

Some of alum Kara Ganley's students at Belvedere Middle School in East Los Angeles

Kara started a robotics club at Belvedere, and a Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement program designed to encourage Latino students to enter these fields. As part of the program, students enter math and science competitions, involving such activities as bridge building with manila folders and making mousetrap cars. She is very excited about having the kids compete.

Kara graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1994 with a BS in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. She participated in the Teach for America program and taught biological science to underprivileged, at risk children in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. This experience caused her to abandon her original intention to pursue a career in medicine, and to realize that teaching was her true calling. She applied and was accepted at Harvard University’s School of Education, where she received a master’s degree in designing curriculum with new technology. She graduated in 2001.

One class that she took at Harvard, titled Cross Cultural Research on Urban Gangs, made her decide to continue teaching in rough areas. “We studied the LA basin and that was what made me interested in heading west to LA and ganglandia. I had worked with gangs in TFA and those were the kids I wanted to continue to work with. Often I’m asked why I don’t teach high school. Most middle school teachers do not have a science degree, and many people think my Harvard degree would be put to better use at the high school level. I disagree. Most kids drop out just after middle school. They get to high school and realize they are just too far behind to keep up with the high school curriculum. They need the skills and knowledge middle school provides in order to stem the high school brain drain.”

Reminiscing about some of her formative experiences at GUS, Kara stated “I try to teach in the GUS style—hands on, with the “learn by doing” motto. The teachers who had the biggest impact on my own teaching are Mrs. Randolph, English; Ms. Vincenti, art; Ms. Krohn, drama and dance; and Ms. Bullivant, Latin. The teacher I remember the most is Mrs. Randolph.  I think that I was able to write well in graduate school because of her influence. I also became more aware of issues of social justice through her reading lists and her passion. Her influence has benefited me enormously throughout my life and especially now in the community I serve. Mrs. Randolph taught English in such a way that every student in her classroom could succeed. She taught literary analysis with an emphasis on connecting content and symbolism to world stories. …In addition to reading and writing, we kept journals, memorized poetry, and completed projects that stretched our creativity. We took risks and shared personal stories. During my years at GUS, my classmates and I followed the epic journeys of heroes and in doing so, thanks to Mrs. Randolph, we learned about ourselves. We were 12, 13, and 14 year-olds who had high expectations placed on us, and because of her, we rose up and beyond them. I will be forever grateful to her and the rest of my teachers at GUS.”

GUS will always be a part of my core being, and the lessons I learned there years ago have guided me and helped me to become the person I am today. Whenever I encounter a student who struggles in his or her academics, like I did—I am dyslexic—I think back to my years at GUS. I was supported and loved at GUS. All kids deserve the GUS experience.”