AAUW event at MSJC inspires 8th grade Pass area girls in STEM careers

The annual American Association of University Women San Gorgonio Pass Group, Redlands Branch STEM Conference was held at Mt. San Jacinto College’s San Jacinto Campus

The importance of supporting each other, having fun with math and exploring forensic science were among the lessons 300 eighth-grade girls from the San Gorgonio Pass heard on Jan. 8, 2019 during the American Association of University Women’s STEM Conference at Mt. San Jacinto College.

Keynote speaker Amber Price, a documentary filmmaker and motivational speaker, reminded the girls to support each other and have a positive self-image during her speech titled “A Girl’s Guide to Finding herself and Finding Success.”

The event, organized by the AAUW San Gorgonio Pass Group of the Redlands Branch and hosted at the San Jacinto Campus by MSJC Outreach, is designed for eighth-graders from middle schools in Banning and Beaumont. Leaders from the private and public sectors provided hands-on workshops that helped the teens explore careers involving the science, technology, engineering and math (or STEM) fields.

Theresa Lantz, conference co-chair with the AAUW branch, and Rebecca Teague, MSJC’s dean of Planning, Institutional Effectiveness and Grants, welcomed the group. Teague encouraged the students to find out more about dual and concurrent enrollment at MSJC. MSJC honors students served as guides to make sure the young visitors made it to each workshop, said Pam Ford, retired anthropology professor at MSJC, who served as a committee member.

During the Fun with Math workshop, Xochiltlin Leal-Huerta of Nicolet Middle School in Banning said she plans to be a nurse.

“It’s interesting,” Xochiltlin said of the event. “There are a lot of things to learn, things you’re going to learn in college.”

Taryn Wagner, of San Gorgonio Middle School in Beaumont, said she enjoyed the hands-on experiments.

“There’s a lot to learn,” Taryn said. “They’re not just talking, they’re actually showing us and we can try it.”

Workshops were held by organizations that included the University of California, Riverside; Esri, Redlands; University of Redlands; CalFire; March Air Reserve Base; California Department of Justice; Ameresco Inc.; Sorenson Engineering and more. Sponsors and other supporters were: Sun Lakes Country Club Charitable Trust; Laura May Stewart Foundation; Wells Fargo Philanthropic Foundation; California Retired Teachers Association – San Gorgonio Pass; Soroptimist International of Beaumont-Banning.

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 Taryn Wagner, a San Gorgonio Middle School student, completes a project designed to illustrate math skills during the AAUW’s annual STEM conference at Mt. San Jacinto College on Jan. 8, 2019.

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 Xochiltlin Leal-Huerta and Bryannia Jordan, both Nicolet Middle School students, work on the geometry of bee hives during the AAUW’s annual STEM conference at Mt. San Jacinto College on Jan. 8, 2019.

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 A group of 8th grade girls from Nicolet Middle School get a giggle out of a math project during the AAUW’s annual STEM conference at Mt. San Jacinto College on Jan. 8, 2019.​​​