July 5, 2014 at 9:45 AM
RANDOLPH, NJ — Three County College of Morris (CCM) students who are helping to further the cause of women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) recently took part in a national conference for student leaders dedicated to the effort.
Members of the CCM Women in STEM Club, Scarlett Toro, president, of Dover; Casey Mee, vice president, of Vernon; and Charlotte Rodgers, treasurer, of Morristown, represented CCM at the American Association of University Women (AAUW) National Conference for College Women Student Leaders in College Park, MD, at the campus of the University of Maryland earlier this month.
The three-day conference proved to be an informative and inspirational experience for the students, who participated in a panel discussion. They also gave a presentation on activities CCM has conducted thanks to a $4,730 grant the college received from AAUW, the purpose of which is to encourage more women to major in STEM programs. Those activities include a luncheon for high-achieving women in mathematics who were non-STEM majors, a trip to the National Museum of Mathematics in New York City, and a luncheon for female area high school students that included a presentation by the Women in STEM Club and a tour of the CCM engineering lab.
“I really enjoyed the conference and learned a lot from it,” said Toro, who will graduate with her Electronics Engineering Technology, Biomedical Equipment option degree from CCM in August. “It really was all about women empowerment. The students from other colleges and the officials from AAUW were all really friendly.”
Toro said of all the grant-sponsored projects she and the club have participated in, her favorite was the luncheon for high school students.
“They had a lot of great questions,” she said. “Some of them said they were afraid of fields that have typically been dominated by men. We were able to talk to them about our experiences and encourage them to be confident. I really do believe that bringing more women to STEM fields will help make the economy, and even the world, better.”
The CCM students at the national conference were accompanied by Professor Keri Flanagan, Women in STEM Club advisor and the AAUW grant co-advisor. Professor Debbie Poetsch, also an advisor for both the club and grant, coordinated the students’ travel, which was funded by AAUW, CCM’s Division of Business, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology, and CCM’s Office of Campus Life.
The women in STEM initiative and fostering education in the fields as a whole have been top priorities at the college. Recently, the National Science Foundation awarded CCM a $199,999 grant to support a new college initiative aimed at preparing a larger number of associate degree graduates for the strong growth fields of biotechnology, chemical technology and environmental science.
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