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Professional Women in Science Inspire High School and College Students

Students talk one-on-one with professionals about career paths

What do manufacturing, water quality, biomedical engineering, research science, computer science, ecology and evolutionary biology have in common?

You’ve undoubtedly guessed it: they are all powerful career fields for women who thrive on the “hows” and “whys” of the world and who embrace the challenge to make that world better.

At NVCC's Women in Science Seminar, the connecting thread for every female presenter was this: pick a skill set, never say no and follow your passion, which was an empowering message for the standing room only crowd packed into Room E440.

For Julia, a freshman at Naugatuck High School, it meant that her desire to become a biomedical engineer didn’t have to fit neatly into one pre-defined career path. Speaking of Amy Purdy, a 2014 Dancing with the Stars contestant who lost her legs at the age of 19 as a result of Meningitis, Julia is particularly inspired by the ability to make a difference in people’s lives.

“That’s what I want to be able to do,” said Julia. “I want to make things that help people.”

Coincidentally, there just so happened to be a biomedical engineer on this year’s panel – whose research interests also just so happened to include biomechanics and prosthetic design.

An assistant professor in Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture at the University of Hartford, Dr. Mary C. Arico is also the assistant director for the Connecticut Space Grant Consortium and founder of Mad About Science, a STEM immersion summer program for middle school girls. What interested Julia the most about Dr. Arico’s career was her current work on the grant-funded LIMBS International project to develop an inexpensive, sustainable, energy-storing prosthetic foot to be built and utilized in developing nations.

Julia is one of more than 100 high school students who attended this year’s event to learn from professionals in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers. According to her biology teacher Jim Isaacson, whose classes have attended the seminar for the past three years, the event is a real “eye opener” for students who choose to come.

“When we get back we debrief and the reaction typically is ‘I didn’t know that [job] even existed,’” he said. “They literally don’t even know these careers exist.”

The Women in Science Seminar was established six years ago through the generosity of Lawrence and Gloria Pond and is organized by the Women in Science Committee, a volunteer organization consisting of faculty members from Math (Jane Wampler, Ruth Urbina-Lilback and Zerbi Mariangeli), Science (Myrna Watanabe and Jianyu Zheng), Computer (Eddy Sandra),  Engineering and Technology (Kristen Dagan McGee and Deirdre Moutinho) as well as Women’s Center (Yhara Zelinka) and Perkin’s Grant (Virgina Gorman). The Committee members are committed to bringing inspiring role models to share their stories and talk one-on-one with high school and college students about potential career paths. For a full list of this year’s speakers, click below. For more information about the event, contact the Coordinator for the Women in Science Committee, Dr. Jianyu Zheng at 203 596 2162 or jzheng@nv.edu.


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