By Lauren Hayward
Holy Cross held its inaugural Women in Science Day on Saturday, March 25. Approximately 150 women students of the College and 100 students from 15 high schools attended the event in the Science Complex. The event brought together Holy Cross undergraduate women and high school girls in an environment that celebrated their interest in a path in STEM and hopefully empowered them to pursue path in STEM. The day was organized by steering committee members Haylie Butler ’17, Carolyn Brown ’17, Hildie Hoeschen ’17, Kate Nicastri ’17, and Sarah Tymochko ’17, with the support of Professor Bitran, Dean Freije, and Professor Findlay.
“I have never seen the integrated science complex so full of life and joy. And on Saturday, it was truly integrated with professors from all STEM departments milling about and talking to students of all ages … with inspiring alumnae from a number of backgrounds returning to share their stories and interact with our undergraduate women on a highly personal level,” said Haylie Butler. “The day was truly inspiring and exceeded my expectations.”
Dr. Cheryl Martin ’84 was the keynote speaker at the event. Dr. Martin earned a B.A. in chemistry from Holy Cross and went on to earn a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from MIT. She is a member of the Managing Board at the World Economic Forum where she is responsible for the industry agenda. Dr. Martin presented a talk titled “With a Background in STEM, You Can Do Anything.” She began the day with inspiration by sharing her life story: from a Holy Cross student to the current manager of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Every seat in the atrium was filled and students lined the stairs and upper balcony area on the second floor during the talk.
“Dr. Cheryl Martin set the tone for the day in her amazing keynote address. Her incredible yet nontraditional path to success sparked an optimism in everyone that women in STEM really can do anything. This feeling of excitement continued through the day as high school students were captivated by lab demonstrations while undergraduate students engaged with alumnae panelists. The enthusiasm expressed by every attendee was inspiring” said Sarah Tymochko.
The Holy Cross undergraduates attended an alumnae panel to expose them the numerous ways in which female Holy Cross alumnae have made strides in the STEM fields and related areas. The alumnae included Karen Mills Alsante Ph.D. ’89, Helen Boucher M.D. ’86, Meghan Casey ’15, Holly Khachadoorian-Elia M.D. ’96, Sheila Namirembe ’15, Tannaz Sedghi ’14, Sarah Valente ’16, and Catherine Ward ’13.
In addition, Holy Cross students were able to explore internship and post-grad opportunities in the sciences during a Browsing Session with representatives from STEM Departments, Career Services, Graduate Studies & Fellowships, Health Professions, and the Office of Study Abroad. The high school students participated in interactive lab demonstrations and a tour of campus.
The closing speaker was Dr. Payal Patel, who is the Director for Worcester Operations of Science from Scientists, an organization that cultivates a passion for making science approachable to all. She presented a talk on “The Heart of Science: A Curious Journey.”
“This event brought Worcester residents and students together, a mission that is near and dear to our hearts. We hope that this event imparted upon every high school and college student that STEM is for everyone. We believe it is our duty as young women to empower one another to change the gender imbalances in the sciences, and hosting this event was a great way to starting addressing this issue in our community,” said Kate Nicastri.
Haylie Butler said, “We wanted our attendees to walk away from the day feeling confident and supported—knowing that STEM is for everyone … STEM is for women. And I think they did.”
Planning is already starting for next year’s event, and applications will be sent out soon for Holy Cross students to apply for the Women in Science (WinS) planning committee positions. Students can express interest in helping with next year’s event by emailing Haylie Butler (email@example.com) or the XCHROM Club email (firstname.lastname@example.org)