On November 2nd, Grand Rapids Community College hosted 205 fifth- to eighth-grade girls from all over Michigan in an experiential Science+ Technology + Engineering + Math (STEM) Girl Genius Conference.
The day-long conference was designed to encourage young women to seek careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Provost Gilda Gely began the event by welcoming the participants to Grand Rapids Community College and introducing Elyse Kleifgen, optometry student at Ferris State University, who gave the opening address.
Throughout the day, participants had the opportunity to carry out hands-on engineering activities and engage with women in STEM field careers, including Dr. Julie Davis Turner, assistant dean at the Van Andel Institute Graduate School; Leigh Kleinert, GRCC biology professor; Linda Bramble, GRCC chemistry professor; and Leigh Eriks, Catholic Central HS chemistry teacher. The participants also had the opportunity to have lunch with women who are engineering and science professionals who work at companies including GE Aviation, Gentex Corp. and the Van Andel Institute.
Many professional women from GRCC also participated, including Kathy Roberts, Tari Mattox, Patricia Dockham, Amy Kudrna, Laurie Chesley, Jodi Dickerson, Laurie Foster, Kate Kryger, and Jan Colvin. Pam Scott, Leah VanHartesveldt and Jennifer Batten worked with the community partners to prepare for the event.
The STEM Girl Genius Conference is in its third year and is a collaborative effort between Fifth Third Bank, Kettering University, the Catholic Secondary School Foundation and Grand Rapids Community College.