A world of opportunity
Mentoring program inspires girls to pursue STEM careers
Around her house, 18-year-old Zcheecid (Ja-SEED) Aguirre is the go-to-girl to fix whatever breaks.
When her family recently installed light fixtures, for example, she was the one who repaired a loose circuit. And to do that, she used her newfound knowledge of electrical resistance – something she picked up from "Imagine Your STEM Future," a Raytheon-sponsored program at her school that pairs girls with experts in science, technology, engineering and math.
Aguirre, a senior at Desert View High School in Tucson, Arizona, is among more than 100 students now enrolled in the program, where projects include designing circuits, building propellers and even constructing a miniature solar house.
"Imagine Your STEM Future" is one of several ways Raytheon is working to get young women interested in science, technology, engineering and math, in the hope they will pursue a career in those fields. Earlier this year, the company sponsored DiscoverE "Girl Day," a series of events at Boys & Girls Clubs across the United States.
"Before this program, I thought I was an oddball because I liked math and science,” Aguirre said. “As a girl, I felt like I shouldn’t be interested in these things, but now I know there are many other girls like me. It gives me confidence to step out of my comfort zone and pursue a future in STEM.”
Four days a week, Raytheon and the Southern Arizona Research Science and Engineering Foundation bring hands-on projects to their classes. Led by a Raytheon female mentor, the girls explore, practice new science and engineering concepts and build self-confidence.
“I have seen these students grow immensely,” said Nuris Finkenthal, a science teacher leading the STEM program at Desert View High School. “They think differently and approach challenges with critical thinking and innovative ideas, which many of them will carry through to college.”
Jasmine Aguilar, another student in the program, said it is teaching her about the value of collaboration.
“I started off with the perspective of doing projects independently, but I have learned how to collaborate with my peers and actually enjoy doing it,” she said.
Early on, Aguilar was interested in biochemistry and medicine, but she now plans to study chemical engineering at the University of Arizona.
“There’s a world of opportunity out there,” she said.
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