COSAM News Articles 2020 February EmpowHER Conference Encourages Girls to Passionately Pursue Science

EmpowHER Conference Encourages Girls to Passionately Pursue Science

Published: 02/18/2020

By: Maria Gebhardt

“Women being so determine to change the world with science,” responded an eighth grade student when asked what stirred her interest at the first EmpowHER Conference.

This conference, presented by the Office of Outreach in the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) and sponsored by the Society of Women in Science and Mathematics (SWSM), celebrated girls in STEM.

“February 11 is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and this event is being held specifically on this day to encourage girls to pursue careers in STEM,” shared Mary Lou Ewald, director of outreach services.

Dr. Jessica Gilpin, a proud Auburn alumna now at Vanderbilt University, returned to welcome more than 180 girls currently in middle and high schools.

“We are here today to inspire you in STEM – in physics, in math, in biology, in chemistry and in endless opportunities,” Dr. Gilpin said in her welcoming statement to the participants.

The day’s event included breakout sessions on a variety of topics, interactive table exhibits and panel discussions.

During a breakout session, Claiming Your Seat at the Table, Dr. Kimberly Mulligan-Guy, spoke to the girls about important topics affecting students including insecurities, self-doubt and anxiety. She asked the girls a series of questions and gave them a chance to stand up together if they had experienced these issues.

Dr. Mulligan-Guy shared information about imposter syndrome and talked about her personal experiences forging her path in the field of STEM.

During the panel discussion, This is What a Scientist Looks Like, Kaelyn Fogelman, graduate student in the Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences; Morgan Beadles, director of Auburn’s Arboretum; Akilah Alwan, graduate student in the Department of Geosciences; and Laura Davenport, COSAM undergraduate student, Miss Auburn, and future physician’s assistant, discussed areas such as finding a mentor, pursuing healthcare professions, navigating male-dominated fields, being a lifelong learner, and believing in yourself.

The interactive table exhibits gave all of the girls a chance to create and explore while getting the priceless opportunity to talk directly with female scientists.

As the girls left the conference, they connected not only with women in STEM, but the possibilities of future careers in science.

“Science has no limits,” said an eleventh grade student.

And these girls have no limit in seeing how they can leave an impact on tomorrow’s world.

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