Platteville hosts Women in STEM Career Day

High school students from local area gather to explore STEM opportunites


Chemistry major Rachel Eckmann wants students to know that STEM fields can be fun

This Tuesday, John Deere sponsored the Woman in STEM career day on campus.  This event focuses on providing high school girls with information on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).  The high school girls were able to learn from professionals, including faculty and students about what STEM careers are available after college.

Eighteen different high schools and 15 school groups were present, making it a 160 girls in total at Career Day. Forty of those girls came from Platteville High School right here in town.

John Deere has been the main sponsor for this event.  Tammy Salmon-Stephens, director of Student Success Programs for the College of EMS, said this was “about the 30th time” this event has been held,  and noted that John Deere was a sponsor at the very beginning.

Rod Robson, a high school science teacher from Cuba City, brought nine students with him. He mentioned that the program was a “good opportunity for girls to be exposed to different STEM fields.”

The Dean of the College of EMS, Dr. Molly Gribb, opened the event by explaining what STEM can do for young high school girls before, during, and after college. Kim Sargent, events coordinator, then took over to give everyone the layout for the day.

The high school students were given the chance to break up into different groups based upon their interests in STEM categories for a significant amount of time during the event. They had the availability to choose up to four different categories throughout the event. Each session was located in a different buildings on campus, to give the students an idea of what the UW-Platteville campus was like.

Midway though the event, everyone gathered back into Velzy commons to listen to the keynote speakers, the prize drawing, and a Woman in EMS presentation by John Deere.

The keynote speaker was chemistry major Rachel Eckmann.

Eckmann said she wanted to stress to the high school girls that there is more to STEM majors than what meet the eye.

“Being a chemistry major doesn’t always mean wearing a white lab coat and goggles, she said.  “Its so much more.  For me, I really do believe that having a background in Chemistry and Forensics Investigation also has helped improve my communication and writing skills.”

“I think that I relate to these girls because middle and high school is when I really started to develop my interest in Forensic Investigation and Chemistry. In middle school we had a Forensic Investigation unit where we had to solve a crime by analyzing different types of evidence. In high school I started to learn about the periodic table and how chemistry can be used to make up everything in our lives around us. But when I first transitioned to college, one of the most overwhelming lessons that I learned was that the number of possibilities of career paths I could follow was not as clear cut as I had believed it to be.”

Not all of the chaperones were teachers.  Grandmother Pat Christiansen brought her granddaughter Kaitlyn Yanna for the second year.

Christiansen said, “We came last year when she was a sophomore, and she enjoyed it so much we came back this year.”

Kaitlyn is interested in some engineering field but has not decided which one yet. Events like this help young girls interested in STEM programs find their perfect niche.