Darby Bankoski is committed to making the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) field more accessible to women and more diverse in general. As a mentor to young students while in high school and now poised to become an engineer, she is helping to break down barriers.

While at Avon Grove High School, Darby founded a youth mentoring program called Team STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math). First, Darby created both a virtual program model and an in-person model. She next helped recruit a group of high school classmates to work with third through sixth grade students to help spark interest in these disciplines. Due to Covid, the first year’s efforts were taught digitally. But in the second year, Team STEAM’s creative projects included helping students design Covid masks using CAD and 3d printing, and a marine environmental protection module where students made physical prototypes of filters and mechanisms to reduce plastic pollution and other ocean threats.

Darby is heading to Johns Hopkins University this fall to study mechanical engineering. There, she would like to continue her youth mentoring activities to encourage more diverse students to go into the engineering field.

Darby is also accomplished at tennis and played for the Avon Grove High School team. She hopes to continue with tennis team sports while in college. She also enjoys playing the guitar and has recently taken up watercolor painting.

Darby looks forward to the day when we don’t label someone a “woman engineer,” but simply “an engineer.”


Bria Nartey: As one of the co-award winners at Avon Grove High School, it’s a wonder Bria has any free time, what with her activism, academic activities, and varied interests. Her activism began when she was 14 and her family relocated from North Carolina to the Avon Grove area. She saw that black students were very much in the minority in her school and had no place to connect and share their unique backgrounds. Bria was able to create a Black Student Union as a place where black students would feel welcome and be supported socially and academically. She went on to serve as president for four years.

Bria will be attending college at Howard University next year, where she hopes to continue her activism by getting involved in student government or working with the African Students Association. She is considering a possible career in law.

Bria is a true Renaissance woman, with many varied interests. She is very focused on opportunities for women in sports and played basketball through her entire high school career, becoming team captain in her junior and senior years. She is a member of the National Honor Society and also active in All Cultures Together Overall (ACTO) and the Leo Club (youth organization of the Lion’s Club). Bria is also artistic and enjoys ceramics and making hand thrown pottery. She was the 2022 homecoming queen.

Bria is proud to say that “who I am as a leader, volunteer and activist cannot be separated from my blackness, and my history has made me the unapologetically passionate and driven person I am today.”


Marisol Gonzales Flores: As a first generation Mexican-American who moved to the US when she was five, Marisol is rightly proud of all she has achieved. She has worked hard to overcome negative stereotyping and help others struggling with the same issues. Her freshman year at Kennett High School she joined the Hermanitas (Spanish term of endearment for sisters), a national organization that empowers Latinas through leadership, community service, and advocacy. Wanting to do more, she became president of the Hermanitas and helped 46 Latina students at Kennett to advance academically and socially. Each year they pursue a project (acting, public speaking) to help these students to be proud of their heritage and pursue their futures with confidence.

She is also proud of her involvement in the National Hispanic Institute, an organization that provides Hispanic youth with a continuum of activities that train them for community leadership. She began in her freshman year by participating in the Great Debate (a communication and leadership curriculum to build up students). Marisol was not only one the the top four speakers, she went on to become the youngest debate coach in the organization.

Marisol will be heading to Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the fall, where she is in the Promising Scholars Program and the Cook Honors College. She is considering a career in criminology, but wants to explore other potential majors as well.

In her free time, Marisol enjoys acting in plays. She is also very musical and likes to play the violin and sing in a choir.

Marisol is inspired by her parents, who came to this country with nothing and worked hard to learn a new language, find employment, become citizens, buy their own home, and provide a fulfilling life for her and her sister.


by Tammis Dowling