2023 Students of Distinction

Mia Stitt is a STEM star

Posted on May 12th, 2023 By:

Gig Harbor Now is posting profiles of each of the Students of Distinction being honored by the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation. The students will be honored during a banquet from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Ocean5, 5268 Point Fosdick Dr.

Student: Mia Stitt

School: Peninsula High School

Category: Science & Technology Achievement

When she was a junior, Mia Stitt was one of 11 students to win the Washington State STEM Rising Star Award that recognizes high school girls who excel academically, demonstrate a passion and develop STEM projects.

Another requirement of the award is that the student use her leadership position to help others through community service. For Mia, that means helping at science night at a local elementary and advocating for STEM classes.

Mia Stitt

Love of science

Winning the award is the thing that’s she’s most proud of, she said.

“After I won, I was the guest speaker the annual American Association of University Women (AAUW) luncheon. Now I help raise funds for their girls’ STEM Camp. I attended the camp when I was in middle school and it helped me discover my love for science, so when I talk about the program, people can look at me and actually see that the program works.”

In addition to her outstanding academic record, Mia is also captain of the PHS swim team and the water polo team.

She also won a first place ribbon for a Holocaust Center for Humanity film, and played in the state woodwind ensemble.

Well rounded interests

When she started high school, she said, she was impressed by how many different kinds of classes were available compared to middle school. “I just wanted to do it all  – science, sports, art – everything.”

But since she has always loved science, robotics and engineering classes, settling on STEM classes was ideal – and they have become her favorite things. “I’ve done every science class I could and tried to take advantage of every opportunity,” she said.

Her varied interests have also led to her biggest challenges. Maintaining a balanced schedule with so many classes and sports activities has been tough, especially when in-person classes resumed after the COVID shutdown.

“During COVID, we could pretty much do anything anytime we wanted as far as school work was concerned. Getting back into a routine was hard.” So she started making lists, and ranking each task according to its priority.

Astronomy and aerospace

Hanna Morrison, PHS English teacher, calls Mia a “wonderfully well rounded student who has succeeded in academics and contributed to community organizations. She is always willing to examine her preconceived notions and revise her own position after considering alternative perspectives and evidence. This maturity to reshape her world view certainly sets her apart from her peers.”

This fall Mia will attend the University of Washington on a scholarship to study astronomy and aerospace engineering before continuing on to do graduate work. She’s looking forward to a career in research and would someday like to work for NASA, or perhaps for Boeing.

Her advice to younger students is to “find what you feel good about doing. Find your passion. There so many opportunities in high school. Don’t hesitate to try new things.”

Mia Stitt

Parents: Dave and Beth Stitt

GPA: 3.9

Achievements/Activities: Washington STEM Rising Star Award; recognition in local newspaper and PSD newsletter; guest speaker at AAUW luncheon; advocate for STEM education for girls; 15 AP Honors courses; swim team and water polo team captain; 1st place film winner – Holocaust Center for Humanity; Most Inspirational swimmer; South Sound Conference Championship – freestyle; Scholar Athlete Award; WIAA Regional Winner and State Participant, Large Woodwind Ensemble; Student of the Quarter

Favorite teacher: Mr. Gillis. “My AP Calculus teacher. He has an unmatched passion for teaching math. He prioritizes group work and collaboration. I found this very important since group work is an important life skill everyone will use in their career. Mr. Gillis reinforces the group work environment by checking in and making sure we are on the same page and not stuck. His passion for math is contagious and excites all of the students in the room.”

Best thing about PHS: “We have something for everyone. I enjoy science and math classes; however, whether you like art, theater, English, sports, history or pretty much anything else, not only does PHS offer it, but they most likely have an advanced course. With all the different opportunities and programs there are tons of friendly people who become your peers and friends. The community around each activity often translates into other groups as well, allowing people to find even more common interests and opportunities to explore them and support one another.”