Thanks to the help of Eastern Suffolk BOCES (ESBOCES), over 60 girls had the opportunity to show the world what ‘girl power’ really means.
ESBOCES, in partnership with CISCO, Million Women Mentors, Girls in ICT, and the Suffolk Regional Information Center welcomed girls from four different school districts to participate in Girls Power Tech Day, an international initiative designed to promote girls getting interested in STEM research. The event was held at Miller Place High School.
The Suffolk Regional Information Center (RIC) is one of twelve statewide Regional Information Centers, providing a wide variety of technology tools and solutions to school districts across the region. They have partnered with CISCO for three years to make Girls Power Tech Day available to students in the districts served by Eastern Suffolk BOCES.
Girls from Miller Place UFSD, Eastport-South Manor CSD, Riverhead CSD, and Center Moriches UFSD, came to participate in an inspiring day of activities, leadership, and learning. The day started with a presentation by CISCO’s Regional Leader for Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Russia, Kay Mukherjee. Kay met with the students through video conference and shared advice on breaking down cultural barriers when working around the globe.
The girls then broke out their phones to engage in an ice breaker activity. They were instructed to find a picture and share it with someone – telling the story behind a fond memory.
A panel of professionals convened to give advice to the students about getting into STEM-related fields. The panelists were a West Point graduate and senior account executive for the NYPD and FDNY for CISCO, a post-doctoral researcher at Brookhaven National Lab, a retired major from the US Air Force, director of business services for ESBOCES, and a certified commercial drone pilot.
The panelists offered advice to the students, ranging from staying strong in the light of adversity, and ensuring that they have a strong support system.
After the panel, the students broke into small groups of 12 to ask questions to the panelists. One student asked Dr. Angela Burnette, a researcher at Brookhaven National Lab, “I want to start an environmental club at my school; can the lab help?” Another asked Colleen Lipponer, director of business services for ESBOCES, “What’s it like to be the only woman in the boardroom?”
“It’s important that these girls can have the opportunity to get face time with leaders in their community,” said Donna Guiffre, divisional administrator for education and information support services at ESBOCES. “They can see what power looks like and how it’s working in their community, and inspire them to go into STEM fields to make a change themselves.”
The day concluded with Andrea Watson, a certified commercial drone pilot leading the group in a drone exercise. The students used iPads to fly small drones that are safe for indoor use. They learned industry-specific terms, and how drones can be programmed to follow a specific flight pattern using block-coding.
The girls left with an important message: that sometimes, being a girl in STEM careers is hard. It requires you to be strong. Even though strength isn’t always pretty, being strong will help you change the world.