Women in Science Showcased at Andrews University in The Benton Spirit

September 19, 2013 - Berrien Springs, MI

By Princella Tobias

This past week featured a special event at Andrews University Chemistry and Biochemistry Department on the topic of women in science. There were six presenters: three current Andrews University students and three Whirlpool Corporation engineers.

In addition to the usual student audience that are required to attend these weekly talks, this week also had five students from the Benton Harbor Girls Academy, along with their school leader, Dr. Patricia Quattrin and her assistant, Samantha Jordan.

A video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kMFwVR5dAM) featuring eight leading women in chemistry produced by the Chemical Heritage Foundation was played as an introduction to the event’s proceedings. 

Then the audience heard from Andrews University students Camille Martin, a chemistry senior and two engineering majors, Nichole Broner and Nina Lassioner. They spoke about the importance of joining networks and organizations that are dedicated to supporting women in science through contacts, summer jobs, and scholarships, to name a few. All three students currently belong to the Society of Women Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers. They spoke about the benefits of membership and indicated that their groups are open to all, regardless of academic year.

The featured speakers were the Whirlpool engineers, Jacquelyn Geda, Elizabeth Bourgeous and Allison Graban were interviewed by event organizer Dr. Desmond Murray, Associate Professor of Chemistry. They talked about their individual experiences from childhood to present as it related to their current jobs as engineers. Feedback to their interviews from students in attendance can be found in online blogs at http://www.bestearly.com/taxonomy/term/209. Some responses included:

Alanna James (Biochemistry Junior): “I think the presentation was very interesting, because the Whirlpool engineers told us how their curiosity as children grew into their desire to become engineers. I’ve always considered engineering as another route. This seminar was awesome, in that I could see women like me, who are successful in what they do, and how they have used their interests to find a job that they love.”

Na Hyoung Kim (Biochemistry Freshmen): “Through this seminar, I was able to have the opportunity to meet these three wonderful career women. Through them, I’m more determined to be successful in my own life. Just like how I respect these women for what they do, I want to be respected by others for my passion and love for my job.” 

Iris Peter (Chemistry Sophomore): “I did not know that scholarships were being given out through clubs for women scientists. Also, I learned that getting internships while you’re still an undergraduate student really helps decide what you want to work with in the science field and what you like or dislike.”

Lessons Learned from Women in Science Talk
One of the most priceless moments came after the Whirlpool women spoke, when the young girls from the Benton Harbor Girls Academy asked, “May we please go and meet them (Whirlpool speakers).” It was as though the speakers were celebrities to them. In essence, they were like a singer, actor, or artist. The presenters evoked an emotion in these young girls and others in attendance about science careers, and opportunities, as well as motivating about the importance of going for your dreams, the power of an education, and the notion that science really does “Rock!”

Dr. Murray is also the founding director for BEST (Building Excellence in Science and Technology) Early, an organization that advocates for early participation. If you would like to know more about BEST and how students can become involved in future talks, contact Dr. Murray at (269) 757-1641, murrayd@andrews.edu, or visit www.bestearly.com/chemsem-news.

Link to The Benton Spirit

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