In the fall of 2019, the Chaparral Outreach Program in Chaparral, New Mexico, kick-started the STEM Sisterhood program to encourage seventh- and eighth-grade girls to explore science, technology, engineering and math careers and pursue their education at New Mexico State University.
While the program was met with a successful start, the COVID-19 pandemic brought progress to a halt. This summer, however, the program is hosting a virtual summer camp for middle school girls in Las Cruces, Hatch and Anthony, New Mexico areas, signaling a hopeful comeback for the program.
STEM Sisterhood Virtual Camps will be held via Zoom from 9 to 11:30 a.m. July 19-23. Participants may register by visiting https://stem.nmsu.edu/summer-
NMSU College of Education staff members Erika Acosta, Michelle Sterling-Rodriguez and Yomara Rios-Laurenzana started the STEM Sisterhood in November 2019 part of the Chaparral Outreach Program. The program brought 90 seventh- and eighth-grade girls from Chaparral Middle School together to encourage them to explore STEM careers and potentially enroll at NMSU after graduating high school.
“What we found in talking to the teachers is a lot of times, we don’t have the time or resources to be able to help students who need guidance with higher education and career exploration,” Acosta said. “Some of these girls had never stepped foot on a college campus before, and with this program they were able to walk around campus and see themselves as future Aggies.”
As the state continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, several NMSU students, faculty and staff have been eager to connect with students in the STEM Sisterhood and have found creative ways to engage with them online. Fifteen NMSU departments, including the STEM Outreach Center, College of Engineering, KRWG, WiSTEM, the Arthropod Museum, the astronomy department and Marketing and Communications have shared their own journeys and experiences during the STEM Sisterhood’s summer camp sessions. The girls also participate in STEM activities they can do at home.
“We look forward to bringing middle school girls to STEM Sisterhood tours in the near future,” Acosta said. “Until then, we are happy to be able to connect students with positive mentors and role models in an online format.”
Rios-Laurenzana, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from NMSU in 2019, said seeing the girls participate in the STEM Sisterhood was inspiring for her to see as an NMSU student.
“It was my senior year in college, and I don’t think you realize how much you need a role model to follow until you’re older,” Rios-Laurenzana said. “I think the STEM Sisterhood is an amazing example of keeping these girls moving forward as women in STEM.”
Author: Adriana M. Chávez – NMSU