Afterschool’s Impact: “It Prepared Me for Being a Leader in the Adult World; I Have No Fear of Leading Adult Men or Women in STEM.”  

Meet Kathy, North Platte Kids Klub, and Beyond School Bells 

Meet Kathy: She's pursuing an exciting course of study and career as a Mechanical Engineering major - and she credits afterschool learning.
Meet Kathy: she’s pursuing an exciting course of study and career as a Mechanical Engineering major – and she credits afterschool learning.

We’re heartened to hear this real-life afterschool success story from Kathy Mathieu, who participated in North Platte Kids Klub’s afterschool programs. These high-quality expanded learning experiences (ELOs) set Kathy up for where she is today – working towards a thriving career as a Mechanical Engineering major!  

North Platte Kids Klub is in partnership with Nebraska Children’s initiative Beyond School Bells, a statewide network that’s committed to creating and sustaining high-quality afterschool learning experiences. Not only do expanded learning experiences keep kids safe during high-risk hours; they also, as Kathy’s story shows, prepare them with real-life, sought-after leadership skills in well-paying, competitive STEM-based jobs!  

Million Girls Moonshot: Why We Want More Women in STEM Fields 

From afterschool participant to volunteer to being on the path to becoming a Mechanical Engineer - Kathy is an inspiration.
From afterschool participant to volunteer to being on the path to becoming a Mechanical Engineer – Kathy is an inspiration.

We are especially committed, along with our partners, to ignite more girls and underrepresented groups, including girls of color, in STEM careers. As the job market, which has been recently male-dominated, continues to explode with these competitive positions, our goal is to include 1 million more young women in STEM.  

Thanks to a STEM Next grant, we’ve joined the Million Girls Moonshot to include more young women like Kathy in STEM careers! Now that we’ve given you our background, let’s hear from Kathy about how afterschool changed her life and prepared her as a real-world leader.  

Kathy’s Story of Afterschool and Career Success 

July 14th, 2021 

My name is Katherine Mathieu. I am writing this letter on behalf of the North Platte Kids Klub Program, which I was once a member and an employee of. I was contacted by the director of the program, Carrie Lienemann, asking if I would be willing to share how Kids Klub impacted me as a female, a member of the STEM community, and as an employee. I of course said yes, I would! My background is something I love to share, but now as I am writing this, trying to put that big of an impact into words is harder than I had imagined. 

A little background on me: I am currently studying Mechanical Engineering at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. At the school, I am a member of the Women’s Track and Field team. I represent that team on the Student Athletic Advisory Council, and I also represent all female athletes on the Hardrockers Women’s Leadership Program. Kids Klub has helped me thrive in each of these activities.  

Thanks to her career-building experience at Kids Klub, Kathy since went on to pay it forward as an afterschool volunteer!
Thanks to her career-building experience at Kids Klub, Kathy since went on to pay it forward as an afterschool volunteer!

I have been a part of Kids Klub since kindergarten. I attended the afterschool program up until the day I no longer could. When that day came, I started volunteering at sites. My mom, a current employee of Kids Klub, is a coordinator at one of the elementary schools. Every day, I would walk there after school and help. I did this for years, up until I was old enough to officially be hired. I worked for Kids Klub for four years. This is the first summer I have not been an employee of Kids Klub. But even now, I still help my mother plan STEM activities for her Kids Klub Site. 

Kids Klub is one of the main reasons I decided to join the STEM field. Many times, after school, our teachers would do science experiments with us. No matter what it was, the science we did after school had me hooked. For years, the experiments I did with Kids Klub after school pushed me to be curious about the world around me. I knew in fifth grade I wanted to be a Mechanical Engineer; I credit that decision to Kids Klub. 

The program didn’t just push me to STEM; it helped me make friends. Out of the entire class, I went to elementary school with, there were two girls I grew up with who were very tomboyish, which is not a bad thing at all! But I had zero exposure to girls my age. The only time I did, was when I would go to Kids Klub. I can tell you it made middle school and the rest of my life a lot easier. 

Carrie Lienemann, the director of Kids Klub, serves as a mentor for Kathy and an advocate for including more girls in STEM activities and careers.
Carrie Lienemann, the director of Kids Klub, serves as a mentor for Kathy and an advocate for including more girls in STEM activities and careers.

One of the biggest qualities I gained from Kids Klub was leadership. I specifically worked with younger kids, and it can be daunting walking into a classroom of 20 children and having to be their leader, role model, and teacher. I learned to lead and teach one of the toughest age groups; I have no doubt it prepared me for being a leader in the adult world, especially being a woman in STEM. After leading 5-and 6-year-olds through the alphabet, I have no fear of leading adult men or women in STEM. 

Kids Klub became my second family. Carrie and my coworkers have always pushed me to pursue my passions, whether in athletics or my career. Even this year, when I officially told Carrie that I was not coming back, she was so excited for me when I told her it was because I had gotten an internship.  

From day one, I was told I could do great things; was always encouraged to do great things and learned great things from this program. I was prepared for my career in more ways than I ever thought possible from my time with Kids Klub. I hope other girls can experience the same thing I did and follow in my footsteps. Because if any program can encourage, teach, and believe in students, it is this one. 

Sincerely,  

Kathy Mathieu 

Find out more about Beyond School Bells 

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Nebraska Children and Families Foundation supports children, young adults and families at risk with the overall goal of giving our state's most vulnerable kids what they need to reach their full potential. We do this by building strong communities that support families so their children can grow up to be thriving, productive adults.

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Posted in Middle Childhood, News and Events

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