fb pixel

Mechanical elbows, building tigers and more at HerWorld


Rub elbows with a female fighter pilot, a female firefighter, and a female triathlete? Build a tiger? Design a mechanical bicep? In March, TAF Academy juniors Cheslea Barboza, Octavia Baxley, and A’Leesia McKinney did this and much more at the HerWorld Conference  in Tacoma.

This conference, hosted by DeVry University, was created to increase the number of women in science and technology fields by bringing high school students together with female role models in science and technology-related careers to explore their career potentials.

DeVry University President Maria Dezenberg kickstarted the day with the question: “How can a university degree in a STEM field open doors?” In Washington State, Dezenberg explained, there is an abundance of unfilled STEM-based job openings and a demand for college graduates with the skills to fill them.

Speaker Carol Tuominen gave students a sneak preview of what kinds of opportunities are available to a person with a STEM-based educational background. She discussed her own career path from audiologist to firefighter to civil engineer, and reflected on how her education prepared her for all of these opportunities.

Octavia, Chelsea, and A’Leesia took this day as another opportunity to reflect on their own post-high school goals and interests. Octavia Baxley spoke about her plans to become a doctor and find a cure for diabetes. A’Leesia discussed wanting to become a pediatrician. Chelsea is also thinking about studying medicine.

In breakout sessions Chelsea and A’Leesia worked on assembling a mechanical Tiger to race. Octavia worked with a partner from a neighboring school to design a brace that mimics the mechanics of the bicep.

These projects were very difficult and required lots of creative problem-solving, collaboration, and patience. In other words, the projects were a perfect fit for these young women.

Even though the tasks elicited frustration among conference participants, at lunchtime it became clear how the habits of mind exercised during the break-out sessions would equip them for college and for life. The college readiness panel had the following words of wisdom to apply:

**Treat yourself like your own best friend; don’t limit and doubt yourself; stay encouraged and remember that you are capable.

**Make friends with fear. Accept it, then move through it.

**Understand where the job/career trends are; these lend to opportunity.

**Make DE-LIMITING choices. Position yourself such that you can do anything you want based upon the choices you’ve made.

Needless to say, A’Leesia, Chelsea, Octavia and I had a lot of fun at the HerWorld conference.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment


Invest today in one student, and the infinite futures they will create.

Support a student today. Your monthly gift will transform classrooms into spaces where the only limit on student learning is their own imagination and curiosity.