This past Saturday (Apr. 18), Notre Dame hosted the 18th annual Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) career conference for middle school girls that focused on activities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Throughout the day, attendees met female role models working in STEM fields and learned about careers in those fields. The main goal of the conference is to attract more young females to STEM careers and help them realize that they have the potential to become innovative and creative thinkers ready to meet 21st century challenges.
This year’s event welcomed over 270 participants from Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois. The conference opened with an informational session on attending college and was followed by workshops on a variety of topics such as animal science, business, chemistry, and engineering. Each student attended three workshops of their choice and many presenters came as far as Chicago.
“My favorite activity was the chocolate chip cookie mining. We got to learn how to buying the equipment and the land, mine the cookies, and see all the work you have to do,” said seventh grader Kendra Miller. “I learned a lot today and I know I want to do something with math in college.”
The event was made possible by an organizing committee comprised of primarily of graduate students in science and engineering who volunteer their time to recruit the presenters, attendees, and other student volunteers.
Erin McNamme, a sophomore biological science major, said she heard about the opportunity through the College of Science and got involved because of her interest in working with young girls in STEM.
“We hosted small groups in the beginning of the day with the girls where we talked about our college experience in the STEM fields, and they had the opportunity to ask us questions about the transition from high school to college,” said McNamme. “I really loved watching the girls realize they can do this.”
“I got involved in EYH my first year here. Some girls come here in the morning and think they have no shot at college or a future in any kind of STEM field. I found that this experience really gives the girls a sense of self and purpose,” said Samantha Atkins, a third-year graduate student and coordinator of the event. “Being in a male-dominated field, you try to find ways to reach out to other women.”
EYH is a national organization that began in the San Francisco Bay Area. Currently, there are more than 80 conferences in the U.S., Europe, and Asia with up to 25,000 girls attending each year.
If you are interested in volunteering with EYH next year, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.