[UPDATE: Due to all of the transitions going on right now relating to the public health concerns over COVID-19, the AJA Young Women in STEM Career Fair will be postponed. They are not able to reschedule at this time, but expect to reschedule for early fall 2020.]
For the second year, Atlanta Jewish Academy will be hosting the Young Women in STEM Career Fair. Jewish girls in eighth through 12th grades are invited to attend the free event March 22 to learn about different STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, math) and meet with women who are professionals in various STEM career fields.
The event will feature mini sessions, including computer animation, where the girls can learn the artistic side of technology; green chemistry, a lab about the synthesis of biodiesel from vegetable oil; and the science of makeup. “We end with some hands-on programming so the students can get a deeper dive into some of the different fields that are out there,” said event organizer Rivka Monheit.
The career fair, organized in partnership with The Weber School, begins with a variety of booths and the opportunity for professional headshots. The interactive displays will include representation from diverse STEM careers, including biotech, industrial engineering and computer design.
Registration begins at noon and the girls will be able to peruse the tables, speak with STEM volunteers and get professional headshots taken for free before the keynote speaker at 1 p.m. There will also be a speed-networking period for girls to speak with at least 10 different women with careers in STEM, facilitated by Brenda Morris, corporate relations manager for Georgia Tech’s Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering.
This year’s keynote speaker will be Deborah Berebichez, a physicist, television host and STEM advocate. She is the first Mexican woman to graduate from Stanford University with a doctorate in physics, Monheit said.
Berebichez co-hosts Discovery channel’s “Outrageous Acts of Science” and is currently working on an IMAX film “Secrets of the Universe,” narrated by “The Big Bang Theory” star Simon Helberg.
“Debbie is really excited to come,” Monheit said. “She’ll be there the entire time to network with the girls. She actively mentors high school students. We’re really excited to have her expertise and enthusiasm and to share her voice with the girls.”
Berebichez said she serves as a STEM ambassador to “inspire a young woman to be curious and learn about the world around her. The joy of learning science is the best gift you can give a young person. It will positively influence their self-esteem and guarantee an independent future.”
The event will kick off the next round of registrations for the Women in STEM mentorship program, run with JumpSpark, an organization that promotes teen engagement. “The goal of the overall program is to increase access to careers and educational opportunities in STEM,” Monheit said. The mentorship program matches girls with Jewish women who are professionals in a STEM discipline during a yearlong one-on-one mentorship program. The first cohort of the program started in September and will finish in the summer.
The current cohort of mentors includes doctors and researchers from the CDC, a nurse, a software engineer, and a research scientist from Georgia Tech.
“One of the points of this event [is] for students to see how supportive the women in STEM community is,” Monheit said. “You’re not alone; there are challenges but you’re not alone in facing them and you’re not the first one who faced them.
“That’s part of the point of the mentoring program, to really feel the support and hoping that those relationships between mentors and mentees are long term.”
Monheit said the program started at AJA, but they enjoy connecting with all the different schools. She spoke at Torah Day School of Atlanta and is planning to speak about women in STEM and her career as a patent attorney. “This is a community program,” she said. The event is sponsored by the Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta.
The Women in STEM Career Fair will be held March 22 at Atlanta Jewish Academy. The event is free. Register in advance on AJA’s website or at the door.