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USDA Official Encourages Female Students to Pursue STEM Education and Careers During “Latina Day”

On September 26, 2012, I addressed a group of 8th grade female students and their mothers at the conference luncheon held by the University of Texas-Pan American. The event was part of Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology (HESTEC) week.

During Latina Day, participants discussed the opportunities for women and girls to advance academically by entering science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. There were activities that included participation from hundreds of mother/daughter teams.  One key theme and highlight of the event was to celebrate women in the STEM fields, hear their success stories, and to encourage children to continue their education.

Earlier in the week, the Obama Administration announced the Equal Futures Partnership, which is a new collaboration with private and non-profit stakeholders to reverse the historic underrepresentation women in STEM education and careers and promote public leadership.

Special effects coordinator Steve Wolf demonstrated experiments using science and technology and says he hopes his presentation would engage students to study science. Wolf has 24 years of experience creating stunts and special effects for movies and TV shows.  He travels nationally giving his presentation called, “Science in the Movies,” where he teaches students basic principles of physics, chemistry, mathematics, mechanics, heat electronics, engineering and computers.

Students also heard from STEM leaders like Tina Atkins, director of Region One GEAR UP; Carmela Gale, Manager of Programs, Laser System Division, Northrop Grumman; and UTPA alumna Samantha Silvas (BS ’09), Team Lead-License Management US – ExxonMobil Informational and Technology. These women stressed the need for more female students to pursue and enter STEM professions.

As I’ve participated in these types of educational events, I recall the inspiration my parents gave me to continue my education. They both served as great role models to me and my community.  As I spoke to the mothers and daughters for “Latina Day,” it was my pleasure and honor to pass along some of that same inspiration and encouragement to these girls so that they will continue to work hard, pursue their career goals (hopefully in the STEM fields!) and also set a good example for future generations.

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