Women in STEM breakfast sets students up for success

Dozens of Glenbrook South students got together the morning of Feb. 2 to celebrate some of their shared interests: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

The annual STEM Breakfast, sponsored by the GBS Science, Mathematics and Career/Technical Education departments, is intended to encourage students to consider pursuing a STEM-related career. This year all female sophomores in science, mathematics and engineering classes received an invitation to the event.

Honorable guest speakers included Becky Barak (PhD, Smith Conservation Fellow, Chicago Botanic Garden), Emily Wigley (Principal Applications Engineer, Knowles Electronics) and Kavita Chandra (PhD, Material Science Engineering, Boston Consulting Group).

GBS Principal Dr. Lauren Fagel opened up the breakfast by stating that she hopes “all students develop a deep-seated belief that they can pursue any career they have interest in.”

“I’m proud to be part of a school that cares so much about our students, and works extra-hard to inspire them,” Fagel said.

Chandra spoke about falling in love with math and science as a freshman in high school, and achieving her goal of studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

“It’s important to always work toward your goals; don’t let anyone hold you back,” Chandra said. “There’s so much opportunity in the STEM field, especially for women. You all have great abilities and there’s something out there for all of you.”

Wigley encouraged the GBS students to pursue their dream careers while still enjoying their hobbies.

“You don’t have to give up what you’re passionate about,” Wigley said. “You can use it to complement your career.”

Barak agreed.

“It’s OK if your road is winding,” she said. “Find and use your strengths ... Try to be brave and resilient ... Find great mentors, and get the support you need.”

Student Ellie Ruos said she enjoyed the breakfast because she was able to picture herself in the presenters’ shoes.

“Sometimes it’s hard to picture yourself doing something like science or engineering when you only see men doing it,” Ruos said. “I really enjoyed hearing from these women.”

Science Department Instructional Supervisor Jeff Rylander encouraged students to get involved in the many STEM-focused clubs and organization at GBS, while also pursuing summer internships or camps.

“Some people say we are on the [verge] of discovering cures for cancer, and if that’s true, it’s you high school students that will take part in that discovery,” he said.

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Women in STEM breakfast sets students up for success