Second Annual Women in Science Day Brings Over 100 High School Students to Campus

Students participate in demos, panel discussions and networking sessions

Let's do the math — 115 high school students, 192 current students, and 13 alumnae, all of whom were women, descended on the Integrated Science Complex on March 24 to celebrate, explore, and learn how women in STEM fields can change the equation.

Throughout the day, the high schoolers met with current students and had the opportunity to participate in demos with faculty members in the departments of chemistry, biology, physics, and mathematics and computer science, as well as STEM-specific browsing sessions with representatives from the College of the Holy Cross.

Presented in partnership with XCHROM, a student group aimed at helping girls in the Holy Cross and Worcester communities gain confidence in STEM-related fields through mentorship, current Holy Cross students planned every detail of the event. Students also coordinated three alumnae panel sessions — STEM in healthcare, STEM in research, and STEM in the workplace — with 12 accomplished Holy Cross alumnae currently working in STEM-related fields who offered their advice and guidance to Holy Cross undergrads. Current students also participated in an hour of networking with the alumnae, asking specific questions about employment after college and diving deeper into their fields of interest.

"Our aim was to spark a passion for science in these young girls, and to begin to instill the scientific qualities that can be useful for any educational path," says Emilie Scott '19, a biology major who served on the student planning committee. "Through hands-on activities and engaging interactions with current female Holy Cross students pursuing their degrees in the STEM fields, we hope the high schoolers got a sense for what science is really like at a college-level."

For current students, the event served as a place to comfortably talk with alumnae about the sometimes daunting thought of what to do after graduation.

They heard from Dr. Helen Boucher '86, an English major at the College who went on to attend medical school and build an impactful career in medicine. Boucher, who offered the keynote address, now serves as the director of the infectious diseases fellowship program and staff physician in the Division of Geographic Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Tufts Medical Center and as an associate professor of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine.

"There are just so many different paths that can be taken," says Rachel McLellan '20, also a biology major. "So this opportunity to discuss how everyone is concerned with what they're doing after graduation was so useful — whether you're a first-year student and concerned that you're not going to get research over the summer, or you're a senior concerned that you haven't heard back from the 18 places you applied to. It was kind of a reminder that if you don't really know what you want to do, with talent and perseverance, you will end up where you're supposed to."

While the name of the event might attract mostly women, male students and faculty members were also welcome to attend.

"We don't want to exclude males from the event — in fact, we invite them," says Daniel Bitran, professor of psychology and faculty liaison to the student organizing committee. "We want our faculty to be excited regardless of their gender, and if we can get male faculty enthused about this project, then all the better. In the end, both men and women are going to be the ones mentoring our students."