By Cyrena Allen
More than 125 elementary, middle and high school students from throughout Leon County spent hours on the Florida A&M University (FAMU) campus with an impressive group of mentors at the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
The girls and young women at the “Color in STEM” event at Jake Gaither Gymnasium came from 14 Leon County Title 1 schools, Florida State University Schools and several Tallahassee charter schools.
Allyson Watson, Ph.D., dean of the FAMU College of Education, in her keynote address told the students about the obstacles she encountered along her STEM journey.
“Someone, somewhere told me I couldn’t do it,” said Watson, who has led a number of initiatives to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. “Never underestimate the power of a girl,” Watson told the audience. “I am a game changer. I am a girl.”
The International Day of Women and Girls in Science on Feb. 11, 2020, focused on surrounding young girls with mentors with careers in the STEM fields, teaching them about various STEM careers, and giving them advice on how to handle career obstacles.
During the speed networking activity, each of the girls were split into groups of seven and seated at a round table. Once the girls were seated, each of the tables was assigned a mentor. For 15 minutes, mentors at each table briefly introduced themselves and engaged with the students. In addition, the mentors also played Q&A games and held group discussions about exactly what their job title is and what it took for them to reach their career goal.
“This event gave young girls an opportunity to actively engage with a number of successful women in various careers of STEM and to see first hand that they too can obtain the same goals,” said Alicia Hudson, HBCU-UP program manager and one the organizers of the event.
Among the 24 mentors were graduate students and faculty from FAMU and FSU, Tallahassee Community College faculty, and Leon County Schools’ staff.
In addition to Dean Watson, the mentors included Marcia Owens, Ph.D., director of the Center for Faculty Advancement at FAMU, Charmane Caldwell, Ph.D., director of Student Access at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, Erika Williams, professor of Biology at TCC, and Amy McKenna, Ph.D., research faculty at the FSU National High Magnetic Field Lab.
This year’s events hosted students in grades 5 – 11 and fostered future mentor connections for: girls in all grades, college undergrads and graduate students majoring in STEM, and women who are currently employed in the STEM workforce.
“If we show them reflections of who they can become, they will never ever doubt their place in the science world,” said Adrienne Stephenson, Ph.D, assistant dean of The Graduate School at FSU and one of the organizers of the event.
Among the sponsors were FAMU HBCU-UP, FAMU ADVANCE, Title 1 Leon County Schools, Tallahassee Science Society, TCC and FSU and the FSU Magnetic Field Lab
The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is an annual event that will be returning to TCC this time next year. For more information on next year’s event or other STEM outreach events, contact Alicia M. Hudson at Alicia.Hudson@famu.edu and Adrienne P. Stephenson at email@example.com.