Thursday, October 04, 2012

[96] MTSU STEM event creates career options for 400-plus girls

For release:  Sept. 22, 2012

News and Media Relations contact: Randy Weiler, 615-898-5616, 615-785-1196 (cell) or 
EYH at MTSU contact: Dr. Judith Iriarte-Gross, 615-904-8253, 615-594-7493 (cell) or 

MURFREESBORO — At least one high school student — and there likely were many others — adding a potential career path to her list of choices during the 16th annual Expanding Your Horizons in Math and Science Conference Saturday at MTSU.

 Attending the conference for the third year, Central Magnate School 10th-grader Audrey Darnbush said she now is adding astronomy to the mix along with possibly becoming a middle school history teacher after graduating from college.

“After today, I will consider a career in astronomy because we saw the planetarium,” said Darnbush, referring to the 16-foot by 10-foot portable dome brought by the Arnold Air Force Base STEM Center. When being asked about what her career choices are, Darnbush was standing next to the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department Mounted Patrol — a veterinary science option.

 “It happens all the time,” conference Director Dr. Judith Iriarte-Gross said of all the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) workshop opportunities the middle school and high school girls have at Expanding Your Horizons.

“Girls change their minds,” Iriarte-Gross added. “Most of our college students change their minds, too. It’s just part of growing up.”

Expanding Your Horizons is a hands-on science and math conference to help girls investigate careers in the STEM fields; to talk with women in these careers; to attend math and science workshops for girls; and meet other girls interested in science and math.

Including girls from Memphis and several school groups from Chattanooga, more than 400 girls attended and nearly 200 volunteers supported the event, which is simply called EYH by local, state and national organizers. It amounted to ordering 145 pizzas, between 500 and 600 drinks and hundreds of cookies consumed by attendees.

La Vergne High School senior Jaelyn Todd attended EYH for the first time. She was fortunate to spend four weeks with event keynote speaker Jennifer Hill at Nissan North America’s summer enrichment program.

“It helped me realize what I want to do and follow my path,” said Todd, who is considering MTSU, Tennessee Tech and the University of the South as college options for a potential engineering career.

Hill, manager of process control engineering at Nissan and a former Tennessee Titans and Nashville Predators cheerleader, provided an energetic and inspiring talk built around LOL — not just laugh out loud but Live Out Loud.

“Never give up on your dreams,” Hill said. “Find your passion, your niche. You are on a path toward success.”

“Jennifer’s amazing,” Iriarte-Gross said. “She was thanking me for the opportunity (to speak). I said, ‘No. We ought to thank you (for speaking).”

Hannah Lannom, 13, a seventh-grader at Girls Preparatory School, was among a contingent of Chattanooga students attending.

 “I like how you can experience how things work and how they take into consideration girls in engineering — not just boys,” Lannom said while attending the Schneider Electric-led “Electrifying Fun with Circuits” workshop in Davis Science Building.

Dr. Rich Rhoda, Tennessee Higher Education Commission executive director, was an invited guest and spoke briefly to the girls. He noted how much fun they were having.

“This is very important,” Rhoda said of EYH. “It will be interesting to track how many of these girls wind up at MTSU or any university in the STEM fields. It definitely makes an impression on them.”

First-year MTSU College of Basic and Applied Sciences Dean Bud Fischer also spoke briefly. He drew a loud round of applause when he told the students MTSU’s new science building would arrive in time (spring 2015) when some of them will be entering college.

 To learn about the 2013 EYH conference, visit




Note: To obtain photos, call 615-898-5616


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