This month, we’re highlighting JV AmeriCorps members Ember McCoy (Gresham, OR) and Karen Goldburg (Hillsboro, OR) as they host a “learning outside the classroom” opportunity at the Women in Science Day through SOLVE. SOLVE’s mission focuses on “bringing Oregonians together to improve our environment and build a legacy of stewardship.” This mission ties in perfectly with the 45th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22nd!
If we had to choose only one thing that is rewarding about serving at SOLVE, it is the emphasis that our organization places on educating young people and empowering them to take their learning outside of the classroom. Recently, we had the opportunity to facilitate this mission in a setting near to our hearts: encouraging young girls to pursue higher education and careers in the still male-dominated science realm.
On Saturday March 7th, SOLVE hosted our annual Women in Science Day, an event that invites middle and high school-aged girls to come learn about careers in the sciences from women who currently work in fields ranging from healthcare to zoology to engineering. The event includes small group discussions where the mentors share their stories – their jobs and the experiences that led them there – and answer questions from the participants. The girls had the opportunity to tour Genentech, a biotechnology company in Hillsboro where anti-cancer drugs are made, as well as participate in a native planting at one of SOLVE’s stream restoration sites with the mentors.
The event was larger than ever this year, with 65 girls from schools across Washington, Multnomah, and Clackamas counties having the opportunity to engage in conversation with twenty mentors from over eight fields of science. Both of us majored in the sciences and were so humbled to be able to give the girls in our community an opportunity we never had – a look into careers or majors they never knew existed, advice, and encouragement guiding them toward the fields of their dreams.
Despite all of the long hours of planning and coordination that had to occur beforehand, it was absolutely incredible to be able to stand on the sidelines and witness all of the connecting and affirming that was happening right before our eyes. The stories of inspiration could be seen everywhere: a sixth grader who dreams of one day entering the healthcare field after hearing about physician’s assistants for the first time; a senior in high school who said she loves the outdoors and plans on majoring in environmental science in college; and an engineering mentor who wishes she could have been supported in this way as a woman earlier in her career.
Women in Science Day was truly a day filled with hope, guidance, and encouragement. We are so proud to stand beside all of the girls and mentors as women in science, as well as so honored to serve at an organization that has given us the opportunity to do so.