Nearly 150 girls visited Bunker Hill Elementary School on Nov. 13 for the third-annual W.I.S.E. Women program, which introduces young girls to women currently working in science-related careers.
Janet MacDonna knew she wanted to pursue a veterinary career before she could ride a bicycle.
“I remember going fishing when I was 5 and holding a fish in my hands and trying to figure out what was wrong with its fin,” said MacDonna, who today works as a small animal vet at Middletown Veterinary Hospital.
The Pike Creek native said it was the support she received from her family that allowed her to pursue her childhood dream through her undergraduate studies at the University of Delaware, followed by veterinary school at Oklahoma State.
“My mom was a librarian so when I was growing up, if I was into cats one week, she would bring home books about cats, or books about koalas if I was into the that the next week,” she said. “It really made a huge difference in my life.”
Librarians from the Appoquinimink School District were hoping to have a similar impact on the nearly 150 girls who visited Bunker Hill Elementary School on Nov. 13 for the third-annual W.I.S.E. Women program, which introduces young girls to women currently working in science-related careers.
“A lot of girls get interested in science at a young age, but as they get older they decide it’s not cool or it’s too hard,” explained W.I.S.E. Women founder and Brick Mill Elementary librarian Janice Haney. “Our goal here is to emphasize that science is fun, interesting and something they can pursue, just like our presenters.”
This year’s event included more than a dozen science professionals ranging from an avian virologist to a ruminant biologist.
“Your training for your career starts now,” Dr. Regina Smith, an OB-GYN out of Newark, told the girls. “Getting good grades is a great way to prepare you for your life ahead. But regardless of what profession you choose, make sure it’s something you enjoy.”
Attendees also learned about perseverance from author Elizabeth Partridge, a 2010 winner of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, who cited examples from the lives of photographer and polio victim Dorothea Lange, as well as children who were in involved in the Civil Rights movement, as detailed in her book, “Marching For Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don’t You Grow Weary.”
“You will definitely have hardships in your life,” Partridge said. “But you can overcome whatever obstacles you are facing, if you can hold onto your spirit and keep engaged to do exciting things.”
Several of the young ladies who attended the two-hour event said they were thrilled to have the chance to learn more about some of the careers they could pursue.
“I like animals and stuff so the veterinarian is really interesting to me,” said Sienna Swecker, a fifth-grader at Silver Lake Elementary School. “I think this is cool because it gives us something to strive for.”
Payton Hadley, a seventh-grader at Alfred G. Waters Middle School, said she was also excited to attend the W.I.S.E. Women event.
“I like getting hands on with science and doing projects,” she said. “I want to be an anesthesiologist or a veterinarian, so it’s neat to learn about the different jobs and open up my options for what I might do.”
The students weren’t the only ladies excited to attend the event.
Kristina Miller said she couldn’t wait to bring her niece, MOT Charter School first-grader Julianna Queen, along with her daughter Sureah Chase, an eighth-grader at Redding Middle School who was attending her second W.I.S.E. Women program.
“It was just so interesting last year that I wanted to bring them together this year,” Miller said. “They’re both interested in the arts, but I’d like to see them pursue something in math or science, as well, because I’d like to see them use their brains, and not just be another pretty face. I think they’re worth so much more than that.”