A year ago at this time, Lee High School senior Evaughna Ammons was not considered to be college ready in the state of Alabama.  She had worked hard in school, having received excellent grades all three years, but her ACT score did not reflect her intelligence or her hard work.

            In the summer of 2013, Ammons participated in the STEM Summer Institute Program, a two week intensive learning opportunity for Lee and Butler High School juniors and seniors.   Students who are accepted into the program receive ACT Prep classes, guidance on college and scholarship applications, and go on visits to colleges and STEM companies in Huntsville.  Ammons said the STEM summer institute "helped me look at math differently and work it out in different ways.  I think the program helped me with my Science more than anything.  My ACT score went up a lot in science."

            The first time Evaughna took the ACT as a junior she got a sixteen.  With an ACT score of sixteen, she was not considered to be college ready and would have been required to take remedial classes in college before beginning her undergraduate coursework.  After participating in the STEM Summer Institute she "took it again in October and got a 21," an increase of 5 points.  The 16 students participating in the program last year saw some amazing results; they raised their ACT composite score by an average of 2.25 points, including 2.5 point increase on the Math section and a 3.65 point increase on the Science section. 

            Evaughna said "the college I've wanted to go to for a long time is UNA.  They will accept you with an ACT score of sixteen but I didn't want to be accepted with a sixteen because I didn't want to have to take remedial courses and I didn't want them to look at me differently like I didn't know how to do anything so I worked hard and retook it and I got a 21.  Compared to 36 isn't that big of a deal but I guess it was a big deal to me."  After improving her ACT score by five points, she "felt like if I really tried I could make it go up even more.  I was really stressed out and I didn't think my score would go up at all.  I was really worried that I wouldn't be able to get into college and I would just be stuck here, but when I improved it made me feel happy that I did it and that I could do it again and succeed in anything else that I tried."           

            When asked about her experience at the STEM Summer Institute, she said "I think it's a really great program for juniors and anybody who's not sure what they want to do in the future.  In my family my mom didn't go to college so I think it's good for kids who don't really know how to look at colleges or how to start the application process.  I think it's good for kids who have the smarts but don't know how to apply it.  It's good for people who just want to make themselves better in anything they do because the ACT is really not just a test... it is a test, but it also makes you strive for better things, and wanting to improve something small like your ACT score can lead you to improve greater things later on in your life."

            Evaughna will be attending the University of North Alabama in the fall.  She is still undecided on a major, but is considering both Spanish and Special Education.  She will be the first person in her family to attend college.