Ladies look to STEM for career opportunities

(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Educators are wanting young women to look at the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math for future careers.

The third annual "Future Women Leaders in STEM" conference took place at Arkansas State University on Friday.

Young ladies from high schools all over Region 8 showed up to get information from women already established in those fields.

STEM Advisor for Arkansas Career Education, Trena Shedd, said now is a good time for women to start looking at the STEM area.

"Today is an exciting day at ASU," Shedd said. "We are doing our Girls in STEM event. This is the third year they've had this event. It's a great time for our girls to get to explore some of our STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Some of those programs and some of those careers."

Shedd said there is a huge need for people in these areas.

"Arkansas Department of Career is wanting to encourage not just our girls, but everyone to look at these careers. And we've got many, many jobs that we don't even have people to fill them. So, that's what we're trying to do. Get people to look at those," Shedd said.

Brookland High School junior Callie Tosh said she saw a lot of exciting things during the day.

"We've gone to a physical therapist and occupational therapist," Tosh said. "We just got done talking to a pharmacist and made bath bombs to show us what we would do if we were in a pharmacy setting and how we would make compounds of elements with pills and how we would mix the solutions together to get the pill. And then she told us about clinic life and how she goes and doesn't just speak to a patient. She speaks to the social workers, their dieticians, and physical therapists in order to really get the solution for what pill they're going to make."

Shedd said it's about opening people's eyes to new possibilities.

"I believe our girls need to see nontraditional careers," Shedd said. "Sometimes they think of the traditional female careers and we're trying to get them to think a little bit differently. We have jobs we don't have people to fill. We want people to fill those jobs and girls can do these jobs just like men can."

Tosh said she felt the information she learned from the conference was very valuable.

"I think it's a great experience," Tosh said. "And it really lets students get more knowledge if they're interested in the field. So, I think it's a great experience for anyone that's wanting to go into a STEM job. I've always been interested in something medical. This just makes me go broader into my interests and it makes me want to fulfill my dreams."

Shedd said she knows how valuable the STEM careers are.

Both of her daughters are making their careers in the STEM field.

"I'm proud to be from Northeast Arkansas and I'm proud to be from Arkansas State University," Shedd said. "My family graduated from here. I have two daughters. One is in vet school in Louisiana and a graduate of Arkansas State University. The other is a Freshman in the Mathematics Department. They got their interest peaked in Science and Math and I'm very proud of that. I'm proud of where their life has taken them."

Shedd wants parents and grandparents to think outside the box.

"Parents need to open their eyes to this," Shedd said. "So many times, we hear about screen time. Kids are on the screen all the time on their IPADS or phones. If you're on that, investigate careers. Look at those things. We want them to realize what is out there for them. Look at those engineering fields. We have many females that are engineers. We have many, many females that are pharmacists. And all of those fields, they can do just as well and still have a family. They can do that."

Shedd said those with the Arkansas Department of Career are trying to get engineering courses in the school system.

"We are working very hard at getting engineering into our schools," Shedd said. "We have several schools in Northeast Arkansas that already have the program. I know Osceola does, Jonesboro High School and we're looking at getting it implemented in Manila. We would love for schools and administrators to think about it. They have to dedicate that person, that faculty member and I know that's a cost involved, but look at implementing engineering, the biomedical sciences, computer-aided design. . .look at implementing those into their high schools."

Around 100 young ladies from all over Northeast Arkansas attended the event.

For more information about Arkansas Career Education, click here.

To learn more about Arkansas State University, click here.

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