Virginia Mentor Protege Session 2: A Passion for STEM

By Trish Barber.

On a very cold and traffic-plagued evening, Virginia’s Session 2 was well attended. The parents, mentors, and protégé’s arrived eager and ready to participate. While mentors were communicating with their protégé’s, the speakers were warming up to deliver a message on how to foster one’s passion for STEM/STEAM.

Irene Lane, Jenny Oh, Dr. Dr. Vashti Bryant and Lisa Odeh
Irene Lane, Jenny Oh, Dr.
Dr. Vashti Bryant and Lisa Odeh

Jenny Oh, Virginia Program Chair, opened the session with a discussion of related Core Beliefs and examples of women who followed their passion for STEM. The average age of our protégés in the Virginia program is 15 years old. They are extremely bright and are excellent performers in school. They care about their grades, they care about their AP exam scores, and they are already contemplating college majors. At age 15 they have busier schedules than many adults with fulls day of school, hours of homework, and hours of extracurricular activities just to gain that competitive edge… When do they have time to find their passions while they are trying to do everything they are supposed to do? What exactly is passion? Do you have to be good at something in order to call it your passion? What if you like science, but you are a B student, even a C student, and someone else always wins the science fair. Does that mean you should stop pursuing science? Jenny Oh explained that passion stems from things we care about, things we like, things we are good at, and things we are interested in. Even if we aren’t the best, as long as it excites us, it is our passion.

You can see Jenny’s slides here.

Our fabulous speakers Dr. Vashti Bryant and Lisa Odeh candidly talked about their experience in college and in the workplace. Neither let challenges along the way stifle their interest or their drive. You can read their bios  for full details on all their accomplishments, but during the session, we got a glimpse of their entrepreneurial spirit and perseverance thanks to Moderator, Irene Lane.

Mentoring group at work
One of the mentoring groups at work

Protege’s were interested in advice on the best way to find internship opportunities and our speakers were quick to make suggestions. For “bench” science opportunities girls were encouraged to consider NIH and local universities and for pharmaceutical opportunities they might consider local hospital pharmacies and local pharmaceutical chains.

The evening ended with group mentoring sessions so the girls could talk about what they heard and how it might relate to their circumstances.

Mentors and protégés broke off into mentoring groups where they leveraged PMI reflection and the following GIT Core Beliefs to identify and actualize their passions:

  • Critical Reflection – think about what you like, what excites you
  • Collaboration – get ideas from what other people are doing, maybe you can join forces
  • Passion – focus and develop your passions
  • Self Efficacy – feel empowered to pursue

At the end of the evening, Jenny opened the floor to protégés (and mentors) to share what their passions were. There was a very impressive list of passions shared with the group!

  • Building robotics
  • Entertainment industry and creating music
  • Selling products
  • Creating a cure for illnesses
  • Reassembling recycled hardware and redistributing to underprivileged parts of the global community
  • Playing basketball and traveling with the NBA
  • Helping the community
  • Teaching
  • Setting up startups in Silicon Valley

It’s our hope that they were inspired to ask lots of questions and consider something new!

The next session, will be Wednesday, 1/8/2014 – Innovation & Leadership: Embrace Fear and Learn to Fail

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