Meet Kaitlyn Zuravel
“Princeton-Bound STEM Scholar”
Since the age of 3, intense curiosity has always fueled Kaitlyn Zuravel’s desire to find out ‘how things work.’
Ginger Zuravel, the mother of the Terry Sanford High School (TSHS) senior, fondly recalls her daughter playing outside with her pockets full of rocks, while digging in the dirt and playing with bugs yet still wishing she could “fly like the birds.”
“When I was five, I tied a safety rope around my waist and jumped off a ledge in my new flying contraption,” said Kaitlyn.“From this venture came lessons learned and rope burns up to my armpits.”
As a sixth grader, the young scientist’s curiosity deepened when she convinced 12 neighbors to repeatedly prick their fingers so she could monitor their blood glucose levels to see if the temperature of the carbohydrates they consumed in any way affected their levels.
And Kaitlyn’s passion for STEM has strengthened through the years.
“In high school, my quest for knowledge has led me to take 19 STEM courses,” said Kaitlyn. “Exposure to this breadth of STEM helped me find my true calling – chemistry and engineering.”
She has also participated in STEM research for the North Carolina Science and Engineering Fair, worked as a research intern at Fayetteville State University, served as a STEM teaching assistant, and competed at numerous levels in the Science Olympiad. Kaitlyn is a three-time International Science & Engineering Fair finalist.
Her heavy involvement in the Girl Scouts of the USA has further ‘stoked the fire’ of her interest in STEM and the need to work personally with closing the gender gap within the industry.
“With the International Fair lasting an entire week, I had sufficient time to ponder my future,” said Kaitlyn. “Was I ready to commit to a life-long journey without female colleagues? That week proved to be a defining moment! I walked away with a new passion – attracting more girls to STEM.”
Within her community, Kaitlyn has worked to design and lead STEM programs for girls of all ages so that they can have open access to the equipment and resources needed for research and implementation. She helped develop a successful partnership between the North Carolina Coastal Pines Council of Girl Scouts and the North Carolina Science Fair Foundation.
While she enjoys ‘all things scientific research,’ the 18 year old has found time to compete on the TSHS’ Varsity Swim and Lacrosse teams, serve as a contributing writer to EducationNC and attend Snyder Memorial Baptist Church as a youth member.
Kaitlyn has been offered scholarships to attend N.C. State University and Virginia Tech, but the soon-to-be Cumberland County Schools graduate plans to attend Princeton University in the fall and major in chemical engineering. One day, she hopes to work for a cosmetics company and use her love for research to produce facial care products for people with sensitive skin.
And when asked what sage advice she would give to an incoming high school student, she shared what she knew to be true from her early days of playing with bugs and devising flying contraptions.
“Embrace your curiosity,” said Kaitlyn. “It will help you discover your talents and your passion.”