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Area middle school girls are GEMS at SCC

Somerset Community College hosted a Girls Exploring Math and Science (GEMS) Conference on Friday, November 5, on the SCC Somerset Campus North. Students from nine area middle schools including Russell County Middle, Casey County Middle, Northern Middle, South Laurel Middle, Meece Middle, Science Hill Independent, Somerset Christian, Southern Middle, and Monticello Independent, and the Home School Co-op took part in the conference.

GEMS was created as a way to encourage girls to consider mathematics-oriented and science-oriented careers, to gain confidence in doing mathematics and science, and to take advanced level mathematics and science courses in high school. The GEMS program is designed to promote the National Science Foundations (NSF) program to promote a larger and more diverse science and engineering workforce. The NSF has found that one of the most effective interventions to help young women choose and sustain an education and career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is mentoring by successful women in those fields.

The GEMS program is a way that I can help encourage young girls consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and math, said Alesa Johnson, SCC GEMS team leader, who helped organize the local GEMS conference. My personal goal when I moved back to Kentucky was to educate girls about engineering and the great opportunities that exist in this field, to share my experiences as an electrical engineer with ExxonMobil, and to help them learn about the incredible opportunities they may not know exist.

A national study that examined 30 years of standardized test data from the very highest-scoring seventh graders, has found that performance differences between boys and girls have narrowed considerably over the last few years. Johnson explained. If we help girls remain interested in science and math as they finish middle school and go on to high school and college, we can influence their career choices.

The conference began with Dr. Tony Honeycutt, SCC Provost, welcoming the girls and their sponsors to the GEMS conference at SCC. He encouraged the girls to actively participate in the workshops and career expo and to seriously consider math, science, engineering, and technology as career choices. After the welcome, each girl participated in two workshops they selected from six different workshop options. This years workshop choices included: Radiography, Pediatrics, Graphic Arts, Civil Engineering, Dentistry, and Financial Planning. The Radiography workshop was hosted by Shanda Catron, SCC Radiography Clinical Coordinator, and Marla Loveless, SCC Radiography Clinical Preceptor. The Pediatric workshop was hosted by Dr. Lissette Garrett of Childrens Clinic in Somerset. The Graphic Arts workshop was hosted by Cindy Burton, SCC Instructional Specialist for Visual Communication. The Civil Engineering workshop was hosted by Lyndsie Powell, who is currently working on her Masters in Civil Engineering at the University of Kentucky. The dentistry workshop was hosted by Dr. Emily Merrick and Renee Smith, Dental Hygienist, whose dental practice is in Somerset. The Financial Planning workshop was hosted by Bobbie Hahn, Financial Advisor for Edward Jones Investments in Somerset.

The girls also attended a Career Expo that was hosted by various math, science, engineering, information technology, and allied health professionals. The girls had the opportunity to talk to these professionals and learn more about their careers. Many girls actively participated in the different activities the professionals had at their booths.

SCC GEMS Team Members include Pam Bridgman, SCC Business and Professional Services Associate Professor; Cecilia Ramilo, SCC Mathematics and Natural Sciences Associate Professor; Lois McWhorter, SCC Business and Professional Services Professor; Tanya Cowan, SCC Health Sciences Division Administrative Assistant; Carol Price, SCC Health Sciences Division Instructor; Nancy Powell, SCC Associate Dean of Health Sciences; Gail Stringer, SCC Mathematics and Natural Sciences Division Professor; Cindy Burton, SCC Visual Communications Instructional Specialist; Jennifer Wilson, SCC Health Sciences Division Associate Professor; and Alesa Johnson, SCC Workforce Solutions Project Manager.

The SCC GEMS Conference was initiated by SCC Provost Dr. Tony Honeycutt. This was the third year that SCC has held the event.