Dr. Heidi Mauk
Dr. Heidi Mauk (also known as Heidi Wainscott) joins us from the United States Air Force Academy where she has been an Assistant Professor of Physics for the past 20 years. Dr. Mauk’s message to the girls today is about the importance of education, choosing YOUR wave, and getting back up when that wave knocks you down.
In High School, Dr. Mauk heard a recruiter talking to a group of boys about the United States Military Academy, West Point. She thought “Wow, that is interesting, I am up for the challenge!” Unfortunately, at the time (1975), women were not allowed to attend our Nation’s Military Academies. A year later, Congress changed the rules allowing the admittance of women and Heidi applied to attend West Point. She was, however, 16 years old, too young to be admitted to the Academy. She attended the University of Vermont for a year and then joined The Long Gray Line with the class of 1981, the second class of women at West Point. Heidi studied physics because she LIKED it, even though it was a field dominated by men.
After graduation, Heidi served in the Army as a Military Police Officer. In 1988, she was contacted by the physics department at West Point and asked to return as a faculty member. She attended the University of Washington obtaining her Master’s Degree before returning to teach at West Point. In 1992, Heidi left the military to focus on a career in education. She obtained her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from Kansas State University in 1997 and was appointed an Assistant Professor of Physics at The United States Air Force Academy.
In 2003, Heidi brought the first group of Air Force Academy cadets to Girls in the Middle to present on physics. Since then the cadets’ role has expanded to coordinating the afternoon session and serving as team leaders. The cadets have been vital to the success of Girls in the Middle. Heidi is retiring this spring which makes it the ideal time for her to reflect on the literally thousands of young women that she has taught, mentored, and inspired. Today she hopes to leave the girls with an understanding that THEY are in charge of their futures.