I spent my Saturday doing one of those things that make you look around with pride. Noreen Legault Mendonza is the founder of the organization and you can read the details about the team and the background at their web site of http://www.geekigirl.org
I met Noreen literally by accident one day when she was on the end of a meeting with a woman who I was meeting with next. Although I don’t qualify for the Geeki in the sense of being tech-savvy or inclined to science, math or engineering, I have most assuredly made my way in non-traditional roles. I was glad to sign up to be one of the presenters at the breakout sessions and have lunch in between. There were around 100 girls in attendance at the South Dade High School, ranging from middle school through seniors. The Miami-Dade County Public School System has incorporated the STEM/STEAM academy into many of their schools as a voluntary track. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math is the basic STEM and schools can elected to add the “A” in either Art or Aeronautics. Studies consistently show that middle school is where girls start backing away from math, etc.,. and so the focus for yesterday was to encourage girls to enter the STEAM academy that does have “Art” as the “A”. Indeed, one of the morning speakers was an engineer who had started in art, then moved into architect, and finally engineering having never thought that was something she would pursue. Geeki Girls emphasizes marrying art and technology and this impressive young woman was a perfect representative for that approach.
The presenters covered quite a range – Air Force Officer, Cisco Code Writer, Police Detective, Entrepreneur, Physician, Model, Animator, and so forth. Not surprisingly, the “CSI” and film making were among the most popular breakout sessions, but those of us with less exciting topics had a good time. During lunch when they asked us to be sure and sit with girls that we hadn’t interacted with yet, it was a special treat for me to have one of them say she was in JROTC and planned to go into the Army through college ROTC and one of the other girls was looking at the Air Force. That really was a coincidence of where I sat down.
I have mentioned the value of mentoring in other posts and while Saturday’s session wasn’t quite that, it was an opportunity for role modeling to girls that the world is truly open to them.