Shadowing and STEM: Bio-Med Student Wins National 4-H Award

Ava Lonneman, a junior at Bio-Med Science Academy, has been quite busy these last few weeks. She recently received the opportunity to shadow Jay Gershen, D.D.S., Ph.D., NEOMED president. Each year, Dr. Gershen allows for a Bio-Med student to take the opportunity to learn more about a career path in higher education. Ava’s love for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), as well as education, made her a perfect shadowing candidate.

“I thought this was an interesting experience and was able to learn about what someone in a leadership role does on a daily basis,” Ava said. “I enjoy taking leadership roles and it’s something I look forward to in my career.”

Whether she chooses to pursue the higher education field or not, Ava will have opportunities available to her.  Shortly after her shadow day with Dr. Gershen, she was named the 2017 recipient of the 4-H Youth in Action Pillar Award for STEM. Youth in Action Pillar Awards are given to only four students in the US by the national 4-H organization, each award representing a core area of 4-H (Agriculture, Citizenship, Healthy Living and STEM).

As a third-generation 4-H participant, a 10-year member of the organization, and avid lover of STEM, Ava has used her membership in 4-H to play an active role in her community. One way she did this was by founding the 4-H Maker’s Club at Bio-Med Science Academy.

“I thought it would be a really good idea to create a 4-H club at Bio-Med because 4-H helps build invaluable skills in successful youth. 4-H stresses the importance of leadership, diverse communities and healthy living. The club is a great way for members to explore the diversity of STEM,” says Ava.

In addition to founding the Bio-Med 4-H club, Ava has been club president in 4-H for four years and has taken on projects in various disciplines like nutrition and small animals.  She also helps as a 4-H camp counselor in the summer.

If a letter of recommendation from the CEO of 4-H and a scholarship for her higher education weren’t enough of an accomplishment, the award also makes her a spokesperson for 4-H STEM programs. She will travel to a few major cities in the US as a representative of the organization and will be officially recognized for her award in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2017.

For more information about the 4-H organization or to see how you can get involved in your community, visit

--Gabrielle Biltz is a senior at Bio-Med Science Academy and an intern in the NEOMED Office of Public Relations and Marketing.

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