GCC Hosts Annual Latina Power in STEM Virtual Event

On May 20, the 4th Annual Latina Power in STEM event went virtual. Over 100 middle and high school students from across the United States logged in to hear from professional Latinas in STEM with a special feature from TECHNOLOchicas. The online event was hosted at Glendale Community College (GCC), as it has been each year, to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to young Latina students.

Students, parents, and faculty attendees had the opportunity to learn about the career journey of each professional member of TECHNOLOchicas. Attendees heard of the personal challenges and the rewards each female professional has experienced as a result of pursuing a career in STEM. Students were able to directly engage with the session by answering poll questions and having the opportunity of Q&A with each speaker.

Currently, many students are feeling uncertain about pursuing higher education at a two-to-four-year college program concerned with how to overcome challenges in the STEM field.

Ann Hernandez, a former GCC student, explained to the student body that there are a variety of paths toward a STEM career. She encouraged the students to “develop excellent study focus and to continue practices to establish the necessary skills for the STEM field”. In regards to a two-to-four-year college, Hernandez went on to say that “there is great quality of support within each institution, with great professors and resources” to help navigate the college journey.

The ethos of the online event was built from a belief that exploring career pathways at an early stage of education is fundamentally essential. With this in mind, student attendees were encouraged to participate in dual enrolment classes in their high schools as an opportunity to explore their interests, develop new skills, and earn the necessary college credit they will need in their futures.

According to a report from the National Science Foundation, Hispanics make up a smaller proportion of workers in science and engineering occupations than of the U.S. workforce as a whole (6% versus 16%). The shared belief of the event was that this should – and can – change in the future.

Latina women in the workforce and academics are working to increase the percentage of underrepresented females in the STEM field. The panel of the Latina Power in STEM event consisted of leaders in their respective fields who actively encouraged young leaders to reach their goals.

One member of the all-female panel was Liz Islas who is a sales specialist at Cisco Meraki. Islas is an engineer who holds a computer science degree and works to aid clients in understanding the value of cloud-managed technology solutions.

Ana Pompa, an entrepreneur and founder of LA-based tech company FindSisterhood, was another of the panelists at the event. Veronica Godinez, elementary principal at Pomona Unified School District, was another example. She has served on several Computer Science Advisory committees and wrote the CA Golden Computer Science Standards. Andrea Chaves was another panelist and speaker who shared her journey as founder of PineApple Women, which is a platform and community for Latinas to share in Spanish their inspiring stories.

Lastly, Maria Jimenez joined the panelists. She is a private educator who conducts online learning as well as offering coaching and curriculum development using 2.0 Web tools.

To ensure the event was fully inclusive, the entire virtual event was sponsored by the Glendale Foundation that included the presence of a sign language interpreter.

The coronavirus pandemic, which is currently ravaging the world, has affected how activities are carried out in different sectors of the economy and the education sector isn’t immune. At present, due to some of the preventive measures put in place by governments in many nations, faculties are now relying on the internet and technological devices to connect, interact and collaborate with their students.

In line with this development, the GCC Career Education hosted over 10 virtual industry Professional Career Series in May to new and continuing students. The Career Series was aimed at encouraging students to complete their certification and explore career pathways within the 16 CA industry sectors.