By Trish Barber.
VA Protégé’s arrived on Wednesday October 9, 2013 with their parents for orientation and the first meeting with the mentors. As always, the evening began with refreshments and networking and went on to prepare protege’s and their families for what to expect from upcoming sessions.
Key messages centered on the benefits of getting outside one’s comfort zone. GIT leader Robin McDougal talked about how the program will encourage protégé’s to try new things and that our sessions will provide a safe environment for doing so. Girls were given a chance to experiment with this concept by practicing introductions with mentors. The group also reviewed a framework for evaluating the ideas that will be exchanged during GIT sessions. The framework involves identifying something the girls agree with, something they might disagree with and something they have questions about. Girls were encouraged to discuss their observations with their mentors and their parents. Girls were also asked to keep in mind the Program’s 7 Core Beliefs as guiding principles while navigating their high school and college years. The video titled Women Pursuing Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math helped transition participants to their breakout sessions.
GIT Steering Committee Member Irene Lane and guest speaker Colleen Oresky, Sr. VP from SAIC, spoke to protégés about STEM career opportunities, places to look for career resources, and the value of trial and error. Protégés left with a homework assignment to explore at least one of the new career resources they learned about and were encouraged to review those findings with their mentors at the next session. Girls were encouraged share their thoughts with their mentors and their parents.
Parents were introduced to Dede Haskings, CEO of NewVision Health and Past Chair of the Women in Technology Education Foundation who teamed with Robin McDougal, CEO of e-GLAM and GIT Chairperson. Dede and Robin talked about the role parents can play in encouraging girls to explore STEM. Both suggested ways parents could continue conversations with their daughters once they return from each Mentor Protégé session. Personal experiences with STEM were shared and parents left with a great understanding of how their girls would be spending time in the upcoming sessions. Parents were welcomed to attend future sessions but assured that dropping off was the norm.
Special thanks to our host AT&T Government Solutions and our Sponsor Women in Technology Educational Foundation for making this session possible.