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President's Places: Inspiring Young Girls at Girls, Inc.

On Aug. 3, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Girls Inc. Operation SMART Summer

Camp in St. Petersburg, Florida to talk about some of the things I love most in life, chemistry and chemical engineering, basketball, fashion and NOBCChE. I had the opportunity to share my story with and promote the NOBCChE STEM weekend in Orlando. The Girls Inc. Operation SMART Summer Camp targets girls 5 to 18 and provides a safe environment in which the girls pursue development of skills in three educational focus areas: literacy, health and wellness and STEM. My husband and I first took a tour of the facility and got a first-hand look at some of their summer projects. Then, I got to talk to the girls for about 45min. I talked about how I got interested in STEM, how I struggled in math in science in high school and college because I didn't come from middle and elementary schools that prepared me for rigorous math. I shared with them that if I could make it, anybody could. I also shared some examples with pictures on my iPad of black scientists and engineers who are leading in business like Ursula Burns (Mechanical Engineer, CEO of Xerox), Don Thompson (Electrical Engineer, former CEO of McDonalds), Arnold Donald (Mechanical Engineer, CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines), and Rosalyn Brewer (Chemist, CEO of Sam’s Club). The event ended with Q&A from the girls. My favorite question was "how much money does it cost to get your nails done like that?" (I had apple red gel on my nails). My response was that it costs about $20. She then proceeded to ask if an engineer made enough money to always get her nails done. Then I said, "Well if you become a chemical engineer, you can design the nail polish yourself and you will always make enough to get your nails done in any color you want." I know that I was supposed to be there to inspire the girls, but I was so inspired by the girls as well as their mentors and teachers. I encourage you my NOBCChE family to take time to talk about the things that matter in your life. Someone needs to hear your story!

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