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Challenger Learning Center to Recognize Challenger Champions at Reception May 24

Paducah, Kentucky (May 5, 2016) Two Paducah sisters were recently chosen as the Challenger Learning Center at Paducahs 2016 Challenger Champions. Both young women will be honored during a reception at the center May 24 from 4-6 p.m.

The program honors outstanding individuals like Lilly and Erin Burba that have attended the program during their childhood and then gone on to support the center as they got older. Challenger Champions are also college or career oriented with an interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Both Lilly and Erin visited the Challenger Learning Center at Paducah during elementary school and later returned to help teach summer camps. They now share how those experiences helped shape them into the young women they are today.

Lilly, 19 and biology major at Indianas DePauw University, visited the center during her sixth grade year. She recalled being on the medical team in the Moon mission and liked the idea of working in that position.

I knew all the mission jobs had some kind of scientific aspect to them, but from the beginning that stuck out to me as something that sounded interesting to me.

Then in the seventh grade, Lilly discovered her passion. She wanted to become a veterinarian, and said her Challenger visit helped set her career choice in stone.

It was my first experience...vaguely related to medicine and veterinary medicine, she said. I had always taken science classes, enjoyed them and done well in them, but it was mostly book-work, and coming to the center allowed me to learn in a hands-on atmosphere.

Like her sister, Erin, 18, graduated from Paducah Tilghman High School. However, she also attended the prestigious Gatton Academy on the campus of Western Kentucky University where she, again like her sister, was interested in biology. But that was before she realized she wanted to follow more in her moms footsteps, a computer and information technologies professor at West Kentucky Community amp; Technical College. Erin is now studying computer science and engineering at Northeastern University in Boston.

Erin reminisced about visiting the Challenger Center when in the fifth grade, and how the STEM disciplines now fit perfectly into her career goals.

The visit solidified my love of science. It was so cool to see all the different jobs that are part of flying missions..... to see how everyone worked together to create the mission and how many different ways science is used to make the experiments work, she said.

Erins dream job would bring her full-circle with the Challenger Center. She hopes to someday make robots for NASA and space missions like the humanoid robots currently being researched for a real mission to the Red Planet.

With the computers and software used at the Challenger Center for missions and the progress the center will make in the years to come, Erin said, who knows I may be working with the Challenger computer systems of the future. My career is wide open at this point.

When Lilly returned to teach summer camps, she said she was able to see another side of the center. I learned a tons of things alongside the kids, and helping expose even the youngest children to science...is a really cool idea. Erin agreed whole-heartedly saying, its amazing to see kids experimenting and understanding complex concepts.

Lilly said its also amazing to be recognized as a Challenger Champion for being just a small part in the overall greatness of the Challenger Learning Center, and it means so much to be honored by an incredible organization that makes such a difference in STEM education, added Erin.

A new Challenger Champion will be honored each year as the CLCs version of a Hall of Fame continues to grow.

For more information about the Challenger Learning Center at Paducah located on the campus of West Kentucky Community and Technical College, visit clcpaducah.org.

Registration for summer and fall classes at WKCTC is also underway. Call 1-(855) GO-WKCTC or visit westkentucky.kctcs.edu for class offerings. Fall classes begin August 15.