Celebrating Our Girls in Science

You’ll never really know until you try it. That advice applies to many things, but it is especially true when choosing a career path. For girls considering STEM careers, that’s the beauty of Hutchison’s Certificate of Science Program.
For example, Helen Gillespie shadowed a head and neck surgeon at UT Methodist and studied the role of immune cells in diabetes and cancer patients. She also spent time at the Memphis Zoo doing husbandry work with various animals, including checking for pregnant Louisiana Pike Snakes, measuring and weighing them for eggs. Helen’s college plans include a major in English and Behavioral Biology. She says she wants to work with people not animals.
 
“We help the girls discover different aspects of science and open their minds up to the different possibilities in the STEM fields,” says Matt Braby, physics teacher and Certificate of Science advisor. “The girls often graduate the program with a better idea of what they do and don’t like (which is equally important) as they head off to college.”
 
Students apply to the program beginning in 10th grade. In addition to a GPA threshold, the application essay requires girls to explain how they will work continually toward a broader scientific goal, usually a topic that has piqued their curiosity over a sustained period of time.
 
“My overall goal is to help bridge the gap between a modern consumerist lifestyle and sustainable future,” says Elizabeth Austin, an aspiring environmental scientist and engineer.
 
Micca Lejwa, who is headed to Duke University, plans to complete a 4+1 degree, which will result in a computer engineering degree and a master’s degree in engineering management. She has always been intrigued by technology. Shadowing a professor at Rhodes College introduced her to the intricacies of virtual reality. Micca also went on to create Code Up!, a coding camp for girls. She says the Certificate of Science Program pushed her to try things she “thought were only possible to do in college.”
 
Eleanor Campbell will be on a pre-med track next fall. She has not decided on a specialty, but her fellowship experience gave her a close-up look at emergency medicine in Le Bonheur Hospital. Eleanor witnessed several life and death scenarios and says she was intrigued by the problem-solving side of emergency medicine.
 
The Certificate of Science Program culminates in a capstone presentation when students share their findings and experiences. Four seniors made their presentations this week.
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Hutchison is the leading private girls school in Memphis for ages 2 years old through twelfth grade.