“If you see far you will go far.”
The delegation spent its final official day with young residents at Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, a comprehensive four-year program that offers housing, enrichment programs and community to vulnerable youth. 2019 fellow Josiane Ishimwe works at ASYV, running the science lab and serving as an example — especially to its female students — of what a woman in STEM can accomplish.
After a tour of the village, which welcomes 126 students yearly who are supported by nearly 200 staff members, mentors and fellows met with a large group of female students for a day of career talks, mentoring and having fun with science. Mentor Shadi Nayyer welcomed the group, reminding them to seek out mentors, implement support systems and never be afraid to fail. “You don’t have to climb the mountain alone,” she said. “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
At career mentoring tables, mentors and fellows led sessions on health technology, product design, architecture, energy technology, cyber security, social media, software development and more, encouraging the students to experiment, explore their curiosity and ask questions. At the product design group, the girls were challenged with building a simple parachute using string, paper and napkins — all in five minutes. At the health technology table, mentor Molly Glauberman spoke about her path to her current career, and how an early love of math and physics turned into a passion for biomechanics and, ultimately, the health tech field.
During afternoon STEM activities, students broke into groups to get creative, use their problem-solving skills and learn about both solar technology and environmental science. At a water contamination science experiment led by mentors Nancy Hendrickson and Regina Chang, students were tasked with finding the most efficient way to filter dirty water with simple materials — coffee filters, sand, charcoal and more. In the solar technology session, mentors Tina Shakour and Mabel Lee taught students about the basic principles of solar energy, providing each small group with solar rovers made of simple materials. Each group worked together to build the rovers and watch move with just the power of the sun.
At the end of the afternoon, the group came together to reflect on a day of exploration and learning. “I stand here as a scientist,” said one of the students. “Only the sky is the limit.”