Forever Green
Campaign for Northwest
Menu & Search

Sept. 26, 2019

Alumni recognized for contributions to STEMM education

By Leah Newell, communication assistant


Two Northwest Missouri State University alumni were honored recently by Central Exchange with STEMMy awards, a recognition of trailblazing, innovating women who are setting trends and breaking barriers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics or medicine.

Lesley Martin, a 2002 Northwest graduate, and Panela Leung, a 2005 Northwest graduate, were among 10 winners in a variety of sectors to receive the awards Sept. 19 at the sixth annual STEMMy Awards Gala Luncheon in Kansas City, Missouri.

Central Exchange, a Kansas City-based organization whose mission is to advance women in meeting their full potential, recognized Martin for her work within the field of computer science and as a teacher at Staley High School in Kansas City, Missouri.

“One of the main reasons I love education is taking that student who doesn’t think they can understand computer science and seeing their face when they realize they can learn it,” Martin said. “My goal is to show my students that it is ok to take risks and try something new. That they can achieve anything they put their mind to.”

Martin received her bachelor’s degree at Northwest in secondary business education. She later attended Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she completed her master’s degree in educational and instructional technology.

Central Exchange recognized Leung for her work as an entrepreneur. She founded Generation Maker Lab, a STEMM-based school and workshop space for children. 

“Our objective is to maximize the potential of every student,” Leung said. “We want them to experiment, to fail and to learn about themselves. It’s about giving access and knowledge that might inspire them.”

After earning bachelor’s degrees at Northwest in studio art and theatre design and technology, Leung completed her certification as a scenic artist at Cobalt Studios. She received her Master of Fine Arts in scenic design and production design from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Both Martin and Leung still apply their Northwest education and experiences to their careers today.

Martin said she would not be the educator she is without the connections she made with Northwest computer science faculty Dianne Linville, Dr. Carol Spradling and Dr. Nancy Zeliff. 

Similarly, Leung credits Patrick Immel, a professor of theatre at Northwest, as a faculty mentor while she studied at the University.

“The design thinking skills I learned at Northwest I still use every day,” Leung said. “Patrick Immel was one of the many teachers in the theatre department that were instrumental in helping me develop discipline and resourcefulness. The supportive faculty was paramount in driving my career in this particular direction.”


Media contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704