Natasha Smith-Walker (center) with Lisa Gilbert (left) and Elena Schroeter

Natasha Smith-Walker (center) with Lisa Gilbert (left) and Elena Schroeter

Below is an account of the recent Women In Science Luncheon from PE facilitator Bori Kim. 

On Thursday, March 12th, over 50 female scientists and science mentors got together at the Garfield Park Conservatory for a special 15th Anniversary edition of Project Exploration’s “Women in Science Luncheon.”

Ms. Natasha Smith-Walker, Executive Director, opened it up with a welcoming message and shared a little bit of PE’s story. She introduced our Evaluations Specialist, Dr. Stephanie Levi to lead an activity called the “STEM Cookbook,” where everyone had a chance to build up a lesson or a curriculum idea for 10 minutes and a time to share our experience in planning, teaching, and mentoring. These “recipes” will become a collection of lesson ideas that will be a resource for scientists, mentors, and educators. Ms. Claribelle Rodriguez shared her idea based on her previous experience with young students. “I would suggest a workshop style like a science fair that opens up to different perspectives on the concept or idea. There’s a lot of prep and planning required, but the better, more concrete plan we have, the more accessible it is for girls to be engaged in science.” Such wisdomJ

Madziar-Lyon

PE founder Gabrielle Lyon with Stephanie Madziar

Followed by the STEM Cookbook activity, Elena Schroeter, a PE family member since 2001, shared her experience. Searching for a career path in high school, Elena did not have a mentor who would help her find a path that fits her. She once asked her college counselor for help, only to have her counselor suggest that she join the track team. Frustrating! Since she joined PE, she has met amazing mentors who could help her find what her interest is and what she really loves. She said, “Young girls need you, an example like I did. You are inspiration. Your experience, your path, and knowledge have a significant impact on young girls.” Elena Schroeter is currently a doctoral student at North Carolina State University studying archaeology.

Before closing, we recognized our special scientists who have supported us in many ways. Lisa Gilbert, a Forensic Scientist at Illinois State Police Department, the women of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Stephanie Madziar, a science teacher who has been involved in PE since 2008. Finally, an honorary recognition went to our founder, Dr. Gabrielle Lyon. Dr. Lyon started her speech with a story of Sisters4Science. She explained how when she first proposed this to the board, she said, “We have to be at the forefront to support the young girls of color.” It’s been 15 years since she took her first steps with only a few people, but now we have over 50 female scientists and mentors who are passionate about what PE does. As Dr. Lyon closed her speech, we were all in tears of joy. Tears of gratitude.

It was such a gorgeous day to celebrate our amazing work at Women in Science Luncheon. Happy 15th Anniversary!

Patricia Maphusa and Lisa Gilbert

Patricia Maphusa and Lisa Gilbert

PE's Stephanie Levi (right) with Laura West

PE’s Stephanie Levi (right) with Laura West

Dr. Florence Mussat with PE's Syda Segovia-Taylor

Dr. Florence Mussat with PE’s Syda Segovia-Taylor

Gabrielle Lyon with board members Gina Myerson (left) and Judy Lubin

Gabrielle Lyon with board members Gina Myerson (left) and Judy Lubin

Stephanie Levi and Ana Shulla-Mesi

Stephanie Levi and Ana Shulla-Mesi

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