The Selfies are Out. Self-made is In! symposium for teens took place at AMN Healthcare to encourage high school girls to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) careers and to become tomorrow’s leaders. Southern California Young Women In Bio, sponsored by Scientist.com and partnering with Girl Scouts of San Diego, co-organized this event with Winward Academy. The event featured a panel of impressive female leaders sharing their paths, giving advice, and inspiring local youth.
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● Maile Young Karris, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at UC San Diego, and Associate Director of the SD Center for AIDS Clinical Research
● MJ Meloy, Ph.D., Assistant Clinical Professor at UC San Diego, MRI Technologist for the Adolescent Brain Development Project
● Nicole Nasby Lucas, M.S., Research Biologist at the Marine Conservation Science Institute
● Sadia Naseem, Electronic Components Packaging Engineer at Qualcomm Inc.
● Renee Edgren, Hybrid Sales Manager for LinkedIn
● Paloma Cortez, Clinical Research Study Coordinator at UC San Diego
● Liz Bui, J.D., Ph.D., Vice President & IP Counsel at ViaCyte, Inc.
● Debbie Chen, Ph.D., the Founder, and CEO of Hydrostasis
● Wendy Benson, M.B.A., Vice President, Strategic Initiatives for Rady Children’s Institute for Genomics
● Sabrina Johnson, the President, and CEO of DARÉ Bioscience and Board Member of Athena
● Karen Overklift, Education & Industry Outreach Manager at Biocom Institute
● Claire Maunsell, STEM Program Specialist for Girl Scouts of San Diego
Over 70 teens and their parents from more than 25 local schools listened to two-panel discussions that addressed how these women became leaders and what they see coming next. Speakers encouraged teens to shape and change the world through STEM, describing the tools and resources available to them to build successful careers. Dr. Linda Strause - a board member of Women in Bio and panel moderator - stated, “We exist to ignite the curiosity and fuel the passion in girls, encouraging them to pursue STEM studies and supporting them as they advance.”
The panelists were all highly driven and successful women, ranging in careers from medical doctors to marine biologists to company founders to educators to clinical research coordinators to STEM program specialists to biotechnology executives. They all stressed the importance of finding mentors and offered participants the opportunity to reach out to them.
Panelists were aligned in encouraging teens to pursue what they love, to find mentors for guidance, to say “yes” when opportunities arise, and above all work hard. Liz Bui, J.D., Ph.D., Vice President & IP Counsel, ViaCyte, Inc. shared advice she gives her daughter regularly with the audience, “Hard work trumps talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
Several panelists described their journey to success as one in which they persevered in consistently showing people that they could become what others said they couldn’t. Dr. Maile Young Karris explained how she was consistently encouraged to pursue nursing rather than becoming an M.D. Claire Maunsell a STEM Program Specialist for Girl Scouts of San Diego described how already in kindergarten she stood her ground when she was told by a male classmate that she could not color on blue paper.
When panelists were asked by students about selecting majors that would allow them to pursue STEM careers, they were candid, telling students that majors were likely to change and that it was important to pursue something they enjoyed. Panelists also spoke to the importance of learning by doing and taking risks to do things for which you might not feel completely qualified. Debbie Chen, Ph.D., and Founder of Hydrostasis emphasized that degrees and grades were not essential, but rather finding your niche, where you will work hard for something that means something to you.
Dr. Jennifer Winward, an instructor at the University of California, San Diego and the founder and CEO of Winward Academy, helped YWIB organize the event and moderated a panel. Dr. Winward is committed to providing educational resources to teens entering STEM programs. Dr. Winward affirms, “I am honored to share my experiences working with youth, and I’m thrilled to partner with YWIB and AMN Healthcare to support the YWIB mission. Winward Academy promotes a holistic view of teen paths to success. While we love to support youth with their ‘numbers’ like GPA and test scores, we care that they also pursue valuable life experiences and understand the importance of internships, mentorship, and relationships with teachers.”