This past Tuesday, TAF Academy’s 6-12th grade young men and young women participated in an all-day event focused on college and career readiness to prepare for their futures.
Divided by gender to cater to well-known differences in experiences, TAF Academy seniors Norman Nguyen and Luz Vela did an amazing job organizing the Young Men’s and Women’s Symposiums respectively. “The intention of the Men’s Symposium is for young men to think deeply and critically about issues related to masculinity, identity, leadership, health, and career preparation by participating in workshops and learning firsthand from male role models,” Nguyen said. Both groups of students were challenged throughout the day to increase their awareness and knowledge through workshops centered around career attire, healthy living styles, networking, team-building and mock interviews.
The girls were met by UW geologist Alison Duvall, who welcomed TAF Academy’s 125 girls and young women by explaining her experience being a woman in a male dominated field. She went on to explain how she led an all-female science team on an expedition to New Zealand where they were met by men who said, “we didn’t know you were going to be women!”
The young women were a captive audience as they soaked in new possibilities for their future in STEM. One student noted that she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do upon graduating but felt better after learning of the many paths the women leading the workshops had taken to become successful.
For the boys, the day started off with four busloads of excited and energetic personalities funneling into the doors of BCLS to be greeted by TAF Academy school principal Paul Tytler and a group of men of varied professions ready to share their wealth of experience and knowledge. After formal introductions and a TEDTalk inspired film, the boys broke out into groups and began to rotate between workshops.
Stereotypes and breaking gender barriers was a common theme among the boys as well. TAF Academy humanities teacher Andy Stuckey explained how the career advice he was given in his early years was heavily influenced by the gender roles widely accepted at the time – something he was unfamiliar with growing up with a stay-at-home father.
One of the biggest take-aways from the day’s events, were the impacts they made on the students. 6th grade student Colton hadn’t been so sure how to face his upcoming years at TAF and felt inspired after hearing from upperclassmen. His favorite part of the day was when “people from different grades talked about what they were doing for the STEM Expo and what else they’re doing outside of school.” In contrast, the seniors really appreciated learning about career attire and how to infuse individuality into their wardrobe while still being presentable for interviews and the workplace.
Symposiums like these enforce the development of the whole student, something that TAF is passionate about cultivating. Stay tuned for a the official symposium gallery in the next few days.