Welcome Virginia GIT Girls!

By Jenny Oh.

The Girls in Technology Mentor-Protégé Program in Virginia kicked off its first session with our proteges on October 8, 2014. Protégés are high school girls accepted into the program and are interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art Design, and Math (STEAM).

Virginia Mentor-Protégé Program Chair, Jenny Oh, welcomed mentors and protégés and went over the GIT program. The program holds five sessions. Each session will cover various topics related to STEAM discovery and professional development. Sessions will feature speakers who are leaders in STEAM and/or a demonstration where protégés are able to ask questions and experience the latest STEAM trends. During every session, protégés will meet with mentors, women who are experienced and leaders in STEAM. Mentors and protégés will share their STEAM passions and knowledge, ask questions, offer encouragement, etc. during their mentoring sessions. We hope that GIT protégés will use the program to:

  1. Connect with others and learn how to build their professional network
  2. Utilize their direct access to women and resources throughout the community
  3. Discover their passions and set goals for their future
  4. Be confident and empowered to own their success and to be role models to other girls

Speaker Session – Career Exploration 

Ellen Jennings and Whitney Vickrey

Ellen Jennings was the speaker of the evening discussing and answering protégé questions on STEAM Career Exploration. Ms. Jennings obtained a Bachelors degree in applied mathematics from the University of Virginia and also a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Harvard Business School. She has worked in the telecommunications and IT industry for over twenty years and is currently CEO of BEI. With her academic background, professional experience, and leadership across the STEAM fields, we thought she would be a great source of knowledge for protégés.

Whitney Vickrey, our GIT Mentor Liaison, moderated the speaker interview and Q&A session. Together they discussed:

  • Why females should consider obtaining degrees in STEAM
  • The increasing need for females in STEAM jobs
  • Resources available to learn more about STEAM careers
  • Advice for girls who are undecided about STEAM futures

Whitney, and Ms. Jennings also talked about the benefit of having a personal “board of advisors” and a “critical reflection discipline” to help them focus, prioritize, and accomplish their goals. For example, Whitney likes to keep a daily list. Ms. Jennings’ said she too keeps a daily list, with the toughest item listed first. She calls this “eating the frog”. She prefers to “eat the frog” sooner than later, that way she is able to cross off her biggest accomplishment early in the day.

3 Pump Hand Shake

Proteges HandshakeProtégés from various schools throughout Northern Virginia met each other for the first time. In addition, they met their mentors for the first time. Throughout the program, protégés will make new friends and meet more women throughout the community. Protégés will encounter these moments more and more in their future when meeting new students at college, job interviews, colleagues at work functions, etc. We may be shy now, but it is important to make a positive first impression. The protégés learned the GIT Girl handshake that involves:

  • Extend your hand
  • Hi, My name is____
  • Handshake – PUMP 3x
  • Where you go to schoolProteges Shake Hands
  • Why you joined the GIT program

We encourage protégés to practice at home and use this handshake when meeting new people!

Mentoring Session

Mentors and proteges met for the first time and were grouped by their STEAM and/or personal interests. At the end of the session, Jenny asked the mentors and proteges to share what they learned about each other. Proteges shared that they were happy to know that there are women out there who share their interests in environmental science, programming, chemistry, etc. This sparked other girls in the room to agree, and they were able to identify other proteges in the program that share similar interests. One protégé mentioned their admiration for mentor, Mini Kanwal’s personal story of bravery to pursue her dreams in STEAM while defying her family/cultural expectations. Proteges and mentors shared many personal stories, and it was evident that the girls were inspired, and excited to learn more about the professional and personal experiences of their mentors.

Virginia GIT Proteges


Thank you Kellye Sheehan, President of Women in Technology (WIT), for visiting our first Mentor-Protégé session and sharing your STEAM journey with us!

Click: For Session Slides

Click: For Additional Photos

Reminder: Next Session: LEADERSHIP – Wednesday, November 12, 2014 @6PM

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