Battelle hosts field trip for STEM girls


Erica Kelble

Freshmen Shelby Umbarger and Megan King talk to research scientist Cindy Taylor at Battelle’s 2014 STEM Women’s Forum. Students listened to speakers and talked to them during mentoring sessions.

“How many leaders do we have here?” speaker Tori Lynch said. Nobody raises their hand. She asks again, “How many leaders are here? I should see every hand go up.”

Everyone in the room then put their hand up in the air.

Girls in the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics program at JC and five other schools attended Battelle’s STEM Women’s Forum on March 21. They listened to speakers in the fields of STEM and took part in mentoring sessions.

“What some of the speakers focused on was something they wouldn’t be able to get in the classroom,” mathematics and science teacher Courtney Von Lange said. Von Lange and science department chair Julie Baker attended the field trip with the students.

Lynch talked about how everyone can be a leader and can lead right from where they are. She said that to be a leader you have to be likable, fearless, focused, and have an ability to influence.

“How does a zoologist get to be able to build satellites for the CIA? You keep on learning,” speaker Susan Gordon said.

Gordon was the keynote speaker for the program and is the Director of Information Operations at the Central Intelligence Agency. JC students were able to listen to three other speakers throughout the day and learned about leadership, the effects of social media, and the importance of finances.

“Money drives everything we do and the decisions we make but you must take control of your emotional life, physical life, and financial life,” speaker and financial advisor Jodi Davis said. Davis informed the listeners about what her job entails and a field of STEM.

“[Davis] talked a lot about finances and that is what I am interested in. It’s important to start thinking about saving now so later you will be ready,” sophomore Shelby Umbarger said.

During the mentoring sessions, the students divided into groups and were able to talk directly with workers in different fields of STEM. The students asked questions about the speakers’ careers and were able to receive advice for the students’ own futures.

“Don’t be afraid to declare what it is that you like and go for it,” mentor Karla Mack said. Mack is a technical writer, editor, and analyst for Battelle.

“The speakers were inspiring to me, and they really [made] me think about the decisions I’ll make for my future. I attended last year, and I really enjoyed it so I decided to come back,” junior Annalee Gabler said.

The career paths introduced during the program included management consulting, market managing, software test engineering, life coaching, computer engineering, and more. Principle Research Scientist for Battelle Kim Nikitas organized the program to encourage the girls to lead in the STEM workforce in these fields.

“What we are trying to do here is let people know of the opportunities that are open to them,” Nikitas said. “I hope everyone here walks away with a lesson that they learned today and do something with it.”

Erica Kelble is a Multimedia Editor for The Patriot and