I first just wanted to thank STEM Starter Academy at STCC for giving me the opportunity to attend today’s STEM Careers Symposium. The theme was ‘See yourself in STEM’. Today’s meeting was very informative, and I had the pleasure of talking with some very talented and intellectual professionals. I wanted to give a special thank you to all the speakers from today.

Our STEM Dean Barbara Washburn welcomed us and commenced the event. She herself is an engineer and offered her support and guidance to students. STCC President Cook emphasized the important role of STCC in Western MA as the only Technical Community College offering access and equity in a range of STEM majors. I was encouraged to hear that STCC has an unique student body of majority women and minorities! He mentioned that STCC has strong Electrical Engineering, Laser Options, Robotics and Health programs and more, and that during our current Covid situation a strong STEM innovative strategy and synergy is vital.

Lt. Gov Polito then presented the keynote for the event. She mentioned how STEM is essential, and this is true. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math are all around us every day. Most of the time our decisions are based on science and data. She mentioned how STEM careers are meaningful and they indeed are.

STEM Starter Academy allows people of all kinds to learn experientially, applying STEM to real world problems, problem solving, critical thinking, and access to curriculum. I love the effort of recruiting women and communities of color to get into STEM. STEM careers bring real opportunity into your life and are meaningful to the world.

Lt. Gov Polito had said something along the lines of a career being a profession that you feel inside, and that resonated within me because when I think of nursing I have a fire inside my body, but mostly my heart. She spoke about the importance of STEM week and I could not agree more; the encouragement I felt today from all the speakers was amazing. As I know careers in STEM could seem intimidating, Lt. Gov Polito talked about how she put together a conference for girls to gain access to science and math curriculum, this is amazing because females do shy away from mathematics and science. I thought the awareness and drive to make a difference in today’s symposium was very inspiring.

Our first speaker was Prof. Trisha L Andrew from UMASS Amherst who researches Wearable Electronics. Her brilliance, enthusiasm and excited was profound. I was given the opportunity to learn about her lab and how you can take any fabric and grow devices directly on it, I think that is absolutely amazing! Prof. Trisha Andrew and people from her lab invented a thermoelectric band that generates heat from the body which you can then use as a power supply to charge your cellular device. They also made a shirt and eye mask to wear while you sleep to monitor heart rate, sleep stages, posture, and breathing to discover any respiration problems. Prof. Trisha Andrew shared how she originally was going to be a doctor but didn’t enjoy biology, she took her education into her own hands and I love how she followed her heart and went for something that she loves. Prof. Trisha Andrew got paid to do what she loves and her education paid for, STEM options are endless so if you don’t like something, there might be something else that you can enjoy.

Dr. Brian Levine had said “Computing for the common good”, which is about integrating values into your work, research, and education. I learned to not only do your work, but to do something in your work that benefits society, in STEM careers are beneficial to society. I appreciated learning about computer science and a bit of cyber security. Dr. Brian Levine had talked a bit about MGHPCC in Holyoke, I thought it was interesting because it is so close to home. The Massachusetts Green High-Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) provides state of the art infrastructure for computationally intensive research that is indispensable in the increasingly sensor and data rich environments of modern science and engineering. This is a cooperative effort from universities in mass one of them being UMASS of Amherst where Dr. Brian Levine is from. I was touched about his work on Digital Forensics involving child trafficking.

Dr. Molly Senn- McNally’s presentation was so touching not only did our journeys feel like our windy roads, we both have passion for the health field and making a difference in this world. Dr. Molly Senn- McNally is a general pediatrician not only does she practice primary care of children from birth to young adulthood, she tries to maximize children’s health in all aspects of their life. For example, she cares about what makes kids healthy, what helps them thrive, how is life at home, do they have food, mental health state. She cares about the overall well-being of her patients’ lives and this is what makes her a great physician. Dr. McNally shared some of her journey to becoming a doctor and I wanted to say that I am inspired to see a woman thrive in life despite all the challenges she has faced along the way. She also spoke about gaining relationships with professors and making a support group during college and this is exactly what I try to do, having support during your college journey is so helpful.

I have experienced numeral times in my life when people say that they “Hate Math” or that they aren’t good at math. I used to be one of these people until I realized that there’s just different types of math that I like and dislike. Carolyn Gardner- Thomas shared her story with us today, her story was so beautiful. Another inspirational woman shared that sometimes our journey can have bumps in the road, but she proves it’s possible to achieve anything you put your mind to in life. As a STCC alumni to now a part of Harvard, Carolyn Gardner- Thomas took her life into her own hands and is a true mathematician. Seeing a woman thrive at mathematics and touch so many lives is truly incredible. Carolyn Gardner Thomas’s presentation was formatted the Known and the Unknown, which got me thinking that sometimes people are so afraid of the unknown, She also mentioned taking one day at a time and these are indeed words to live by. A slide in her presentation said, “Using and developing practices, or building habits to solve problems for the benefit of society”, STEM is all about benefiting society.

On a final note I just wanted to thank Dr. Reena Randhir and anyone that I have missed. Today’s symposium was informative, inspirational, and just overall pleasant. The event was very engaging with students flooding the zoom chat with comments, appreciation and questions. I got a ton of knowledge and motivation from this meeting; I am so excited to pursue my STEM career and not only benefit my life but benefit the lives of others.