UPDATE: As of 7 a.m. Thursday, AsiaMonea surpassed her goals by 109%.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – I.C. Norcom High School freshman AsiaMonea Hawkins’ love for STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – started when she was young.

“She would build things like rollercoasters and trains and things like that,” said her mom, Breona Merrell.

Her love kept building and her teachers noticed. She was nominated for the invite-only National Youth Leadership Engineering Program.

“This time, she was so excited,” Merrell said. “She was so impressed with herself, and I was like, ‘Oh, I have to raise $4,000,'” Merrell said.

It’s a chance for her to explore.

“You really get to see what you would actually be doing in that career,” AsiaMonea said.

She’s gone once before, but AsiaMonea said this year is different.

“Now that I am in high school, this is what people are looking at,” AsiaMonea said. “Seeing what I am doing to see what I want to do in the future,” she said.

The program has a steep price tag. It will cost nearly $4,000, not including travel expenses.

When her mom saw the invitation, she immediately started brainstorming.

“I am always, ‘What can I do? What steps can I take? We did a fundraiser page,” Merrell said.

The pair has worked together and has already raised a quarter of the money. They are hopeful they can reach the full goal, but if they don’t, AsiaMonea said it’s a learning process for her.

“I try not to get my hopes up on going because $4,000 is a lot of money,” AsiaMonea said, “but all I can do is try. If if I don’t get there, I’ve tried to get there.” 

She hopes the opportunity to go again will allow her to explore different engineering paths and add it to her résumé for college.

Her mom is researching other programs she can go to this summer, but they are crossing their fingers they can raise $4,000.

Want to help?

If you’d like to I.C. Norcom High School freshman AsiaMonea Hawkins reach her goal of raising the nearly $4,000 for the National Youth Leadership Engineering Program, click here.