Partners in Education “Girl Power in STEM” Spring Symposium

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Greater Hazleton Partners in Education will host its annual Girl Power in STEM Spring Symposium on Tuesday, April 9th from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Premier Catering & Events at Genetti Ballrooms in Hazleton.

The symposium, now in its second year, is a half-day seminar that brings together professional women in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields to motivate local high school girls to pursue careers in those related field. The goal is to bring the women and girls together and create an atmosphere for sharing information.  

This year’s panelists include, Audrey Cunfer, Clinical & Simulation Coordinator and Nursing Lab Manager, Misericordia University; SuAnn Hoffman, Chief Technology Officer Sundance Vacations; Patrice Cusatis, Application Chemist/Technical Manager at BASF; and, Kathleen Robbins, Senior Director for Research & Development, Bimbo Bakeries USA.                                                                                                              

Additional presenters include Nicole Puz, Learning/ICQA Operations Manager, Amazon North American Fulfillment Center and Jocelyn Sterenchock, Coordinator of Entrepreneurial Services for the CAN BE Innovation Center.

“I am thrilled to be able to host this event for the second year and to be able to assemble this group of inspiring women,” said Cathy Colangelo, Executive Director of Greater Hazleton Partners in Education and organizer of the Girl Power in STEM Symposium.  “These women are leaders in their fields and I am excited for them to share their experiences, wisdom and challenges with our local high school students and other women in the community. It’s a unique opportunity for young women who may be interested in science, technology, engineering or math to be able to connect with women who are already paving a path in those fields.” 

The women will share their experiences and expertise through brief presentations and an interactive panel discussion. Attendees will also have the chance to have one-on-one conversations with local businesswomen and representatives from several educational institutions who offer various degrees in STEM careers.

Part of the mission of Greater Hazleton Partners in Education (PIE), a local non-profit that connects schools and businesses is to provide information and opportunities about future careers to students. According to an Executive Summary done by the US Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration, the Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) noted that America’s STEM workforce is crucial for generating new ideas and providing critical thinking necessary in the modern economy. However, women continue to be underrepresented in STEM jobs and among STEM degree holders.  Having that information, Colangelo noted that this is the perfect chance for PIE to collaborate with the local business and education community and show female students firsthand the types of careers, experiences and possibilities that are available to them.

Marie Ernst, Assistant Principal at the Hazleton Area Academy of Sciences is one of the education partners who has again been working with Ms. Colangelo on putting the program together. Ernst, who also has a B.S. in Biology shared her thoughts on getting students involved in STEM careers. “I have been a biologist for over 30 years. In that time, so much has been learned in the sciences. What we know is minimal compared to what we still must learn. The young women attending the “Women in Science Spring Symposium: Girl Power in STEM: GET INSPIRED” will discover great things, the unknown.”

The symposium is made possible with the support from sponsors to date including Bemis, Bimbo Bakeries USA, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, PPL, Bloomsburg University, King’s College, Lackawanna College, PA National Guard, Penn State Hazleton, Sundance Vacations, UGI, Amazon, Barry Isett & Associates, Can Be Innovation Center, DeSales University, George J. Hayden, Inc., Johnson College, Misericordia University, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Wilkes University’s Women Inspired by Science.