‘Making HERStory’: Academy Ambassador Organized Event Inspires Young Girls in STEM

By Catharine Li, Reporter

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  • Attendees listen intently to the panelists' discussion. Photo courtesy of Rakshinee Sreekanth.

    Photo By Rakshinee Sreekanth

  • Sejal Jain '20 presents her project 'Adorn With Attitude'. Photo courtesy of Rakshinee Sreekanth.

    Photo By Rakshinee Sreekanth

  • Student organizers Rakshinee Sreekanth '22 and Grace Li '22 pose for a picture at their 'HerStory Makers' event. Photo courtesy of Ms. Lucy Sanchez on Twitter.

    Photo By Ms. Lucy Sanchez

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Eyes wide and brows furrowed in concentration, young students were intent on solving the challenge in front of them, and as their expressions changed in anticipation, smiles soon hit their faces in success. Attending the first ever HERStory Makers event, students and parents were invited to the cafeteria for an insightful afternoon of learning and discovery as hosted by the ambassadors from the Academy of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) on Saturday, Dec. 14, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

Sponsored by Deloitte, the event hosted more than 15 student led clubs, organizations, and representatives from Round Rock ISD high schools and surrounding, and featured professional women from major technology companies and institutions in the Austin area including Dell, Nokia, IBM, and the University of Texas. Attendees had the chance to take part in panel discussions, interact with presenters, participate in hands-on learning activities, and ask questions, leaving with a better understanding of a world of career possibilities in STEM fields. 

Senior Sejal Jain was among one of the students who spoke on her research project, titled ‘Adorn With Attitude’ which served to shed light on the gender disparities present in elementary school math courses in the district and around the nation. 

“I am not expecting to change the world. I just hope that by sharing my research with a wider audience, we can at least kickstart the conversation to address the problem,” Jain said. “I witnessed first-hand the positive impact of early exposure to STEM activities. My heart swells to see my Math Olympiad girls develop even stronger critical thinking skills and gain confidence. By continuing to host these events, we can raise awareness about other nuances of the problem that are not as commonly known.” 

Reaching out to numerous teachers, speakers, and partners starting in July of 2019, Rakshinee Sreekanth ‘22 and Grace Li ‘22 were the sole student organizers involved who worked around the clock to ensure that their vision ran smoothly. 

“We began by reaching out to the academy ambassador lead, Ms. Sanchez, and the STEM Academy Ambassador teacher, Mr. Taylor, who put us in contact with multiple partners whom we called and emailed back and forth,” Sreekanth said. 

For Sreekanth and Li, their initiative towards a more diverse and inclusive STEM scene starts with helping young women realize their potential in their own communities. 

“Start small. Join an organization in school to increase your knowledge and expertise within STEM fields,” Sreekanth said. “Attending outreach or exploratory events such as HERStory increases motivation and inspiration to stick to the craft.” 

The scarcity of women in STEM fields has long been an issue at hand. As the urgency to provide girls with a platform to explore their interests in STEM is more important than ever, an era where women are increasingly prominent in business, medicine, and law suggest a new story is quickly unfolding. 

“Encouraging children and young women through interactive sessions and activities as they begin their path toward future careers is vital to begin the process toward evening out the gender gap in STEM fields,” Sreekanth said. “By starting the conversation of increasing more women in STEM fields across our district, we hope to have the opportunity to be able to do this event annually to spread awareness, increase knowledge, and ultimately, inspire the communities of young women to realize that they are capable of anything.”