MVP for Iowa STEM: Catherine Swoboda

Catherine Swoboda
Catherine Swoboda, a founding member of the STEM Council, considers her fellow STEM Council members “comrades” in the fight to make students more aware of and equipped to solve the world’s biggest problems.

With STEM comes the ability to problem solve—a trait needed more and more in today’s world where new  diseases emerge, economies roil and the atmosphere endures assault. Fortunately, the STEM Council is made up of people dedicated to inspiring students to solve those problems, including this month’s MVP for Iowa STEM, Catherine Swoboda, who works within and beyond the STEM Council to equip today’s students to use STEM in ending world hunger.

In her four and a half years on the STEM Council, Swoboda has served on the team that dreamed up the STEM Scale-Up Program and currently serves on the Active Learning Community Partners Working Group and the Agriculture in STEM Working Group.

Her contributions thus far align directly with her professional role as the director of planning for The World Food Prize. The group recognizes Iowa native, Dr. Norman Borlaug as a state role model who pursued a STEM education, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 and ultimately changed the course of history, making a global impact on the way we manage the world’s food supply.

Swoboda believes Iowa’s students today can have the same, if not greater influence, but only if they have the proper exposure to quality STEM education. She acknowledges that the STEM interest generated and infused through educators by the STEM Council since 2011 has helped draw more interest into The World Food Prize from students across Iowa.

“I think of the STEM Council members as comrades in inspiring the next generation that will carry on Dr. Borlaug’s legacy,” she said. “Quite simply, STEM education is essential to our children’s future, the future of the state and the world. Students who are now in school are going to be confronted with enormous and complex challenges for themselves, for their own children and for their children’s children. We urgently need young people to be aware of those challenges and to be prepared to confront them. Equipping them with the skills and the tools through a STEM education is absolutely critical to do so.”

With that, we celebrate Catherine’s contributions to the STEM Council and thank the other 46 members of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council.