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San Juan County Boarding School Exposes Students To STEM Careers

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah – Eight members of a San Juan County summer boarding school visited the Salt Lake Valley to get hands-on aviation experience Thursday.

AIS Prep, a summer boarding school organized by American Indian Services, organized the trip to expose their students to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. AIS Prep is in its fifth year. Their 82 students live in the dormitories Utah State University’s Blanding campus five days a week for six weeks during the summer.

“Every week, we learn a new subject. Last week, we had genetics,” said fifth-year student Jadan Lacy. “This week is about aviation,”

On Thursday, the fifth-year students took a trip to Guardian Flight, an air medical transportation company based in South Jordan, where they got experience in a flight simulator. An instructor guided them through traffic patterns, letting the students try takeoffs and landings.

More than 90% of the students are Native Americans and more than 70% are girls.

“Our main goal is to bring Native Americans in and give them these opportunities that they might not have while living on the reservation or attending schools so far away,” said Karah Nay, AIS Prep’s Blanding site director.

Nay said the students see their grades go up during the school year thanks to the work they do through the summer. After three summers in the program, the students are eligible for scholarships to college or technical school.

“It especially helps with the math classes and science classes, too when you come back and you go over familiar topics again that you learned during the summer,” Lacy said.

Nay said it was remarkable to watch the students grow over five summers.

“It’s super-awesome. These kids, they started off as little kids that were scared to be on campus. They were scared to be away from mom and now here they are, they’re fifth years. They’re 16, 17 years old and they’re looking towards careers,” she said.

The students are not charged for the program, which is funded through donors.

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