SAN ANTONIO (August 17, 2020) – Miss Fiesta San Antonio 2020-2021, Calista Burns, continues to work on her community service project during her reign as Miss Fiesta San Antonio. Miss Fiesta San Antonio serves as a member of Official Fiesta Royalty and also acts as an ambassador who raises awareness for Fiesta San Antonio, the Fiesta San Antonio Foundation, and her community service platform she created during her reign. Calista’s community service project focuses on educating young girls from underrepresented communities in San Antonio about the fields and careers in STEAM through the program called GEMS (Girls in Engineering, Mathematics, and Science). Calista is the Virtual Research Camp (VRC) Head Counselor and Research Coordinator, where she has led the GEMS VRC with the help of Stephanie Weiss-Lopez, GEMS Project Manager/Coordinator and UIW Meteorology Major, under the guidance of Dr. Michael Frye, GEMS Director and Professor of Engineering at UIW. In addition to her work with GEMS, Calista is a full-time undergraduate student at University of the Incarnate Word where she is majoring in Education and double-minoring and Mathematics and Reading.
Miss Fiesta San Antonio, Calista, says, “Due to the unfortunate events of the COVID-19 pandemic, GEMS was unable to host in-person summer camps. This led to the innovative summer program called GEMS Virtual Research Camp. The GEMS VRC is a four-week camp where five female high school students conducted research on the use of Artificial Intelligence in pharmacy clinical decisions, robotic surgeries, special needs students competing in robotics competitions, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), and the effect of COVID-19 on adolescents.” Ms. Burns goes on to say, “They are just so impressive, and we are extremely proud of them. You could see and hear their passion about their research as they presented during the showcase.”
During the GEMS VRC, the students had the opportunity to meet with many influential women in STEAM: Christine James, Chemical Engineer and the Director of Optimization and Planning at Valero; Lorena Kaplen, H-E-B Registered Dietitian and the SA Sales Marketing Representative; Katie Chain, the Education and Workforce Program Manager at H-E-B; Dr. Stephanie Garcia, the Education Associate at the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA); and Hannah Zunker, the Lead Strategic Planning Specialist at Valero, and Founder and Chair of Florecer Femme.
Since GEMS was unable to host their summer camps this year, Calista partnered with Valero to create free GEMS STEAM Activity Kits for 50 girls who have been involved in GEMS camps or the miniGEMS FIRST LEGO League during this past year. The miniGEMS FIRST LEGO League is part of Calista’s community service platform as Miss Fiesta San Antonio. Calista personally delivered each STEAM activities kit, which included materials and instructions for three at home activities, and a special message and photo from herself as Miss Fiesta San Antonio 2020-2021 (photos below), to the homes of students attending Barkley-Ruiz Elementary of SAISD and Elolf Elementary of Judson ISD.
Although Fiesta 2020 was cancelled, Calista continues with her Miss Fiesta San Antonio 2020-2021 community service project spreading the word about GEMS and keeping young girls engaged in the STEAM fields with the GEMS VRC and GEMS STEAM Activity Kits.
For more information on Miss Fiesta San Antonio, visit www.fiestasanantonio.org.
Thank you to our sponsors, Valero, Toyota, and Texas Western Wearhouse.
Miss Fiesta San Antonio 2020-21, Calista Burns, delivering GEMS STEAM Activity Kits to young girls in the GEMS Program.
By Paige Wolf, Director of Communications