Dynamic Tech Savvy Event Hosted by AAUW CT and Trinity for 6th-9th Grade Girls

President Berger-Sweeney and 30+ Trinity Students Among Those Inspiring Girls to Pursue STEM

President Joanne Berger-Sweeney welcomes Tech Savvy attendees.
Hartford, CT, May 12, 2015 – AAUW CT and Trinity College hosted Tech Savvy, a daylong event designed to show girls firsthand how science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields can lead to exciting careers. The conference, part of the AAUW National Tech Savvy Pilot Program, welcomed 85 sixth- through ninth-grade girls and 38 adults representing families and teachers of the girls from Connecticut and beyond, to the Trinity College campus on Saturday, May 2.

Thanks to the generosity of donors, including AAUW, Praxair, The Petit Family Foundation, and CT Space Grant, the program cost just $5.00 per student and adult. Fifty volunteers, including 32 Trinity students, other area students, presenters, and planning committee members, helped make the day a success. The event was chaired by Trinity alumna Donna Haghighat ’89. Alison Draper, director of Trinity’s Science Center and lecturer in interdisciplinary science, was instrumental in planning the College’s participation.

Andrew Walker ’89 and his daughter Hannah traveled to campus from New Jersey to participate in Tech Savvy.
  The program included hands-on workshops, mock college and career interviews, savvy skills sessions, and a separate track for parents. The day began with an inspiring welcome from Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney. Berger-Sweeney encouraged girls to “take a few minutes today to dream about your future” and asked parents to keep encouraging their girls that they could be anything and they should pursue their passions. Berger-Sweeney also shared her own personal journey from a girl who loved science to performing breakthrough research resulting in the second-most-used Alzheimer's drug in the world, Razadyne, to becoming a college president. Keshia Ashe, founder of Many Mentors and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Connecticut, was the keynote speaker.

Tech Savvy and similar programs are one way to increase the number of women in the STEM pipeline. Other recommendations, including suggestions for employers, appear in AAUW’s new research report, Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing. (The AAUW’s report recently was spotlighted in a TIME magazine article on “How to Get More Girls Involved in STEM.”) At the close of the day, all of the Tech Savvy participants were surveyed about the impact of the program. One student volunteered, “This made me interested in being an engineer; when I came today I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up.”

A panel discussion featuring, from left: Ashley Nelson, Gateway Community College alumna; Rachel Moll, University of Hartford student;
Trinity College senior Erin Barney ’15; and
Cynthia Townshend-Lacock, AAUW member.
A video, “Yes She Can, Girls in STEM,” created by Erin Barney ’15 (in photo at right) and Haley Baldwin ’16, and featuring several members of the Trinity faculty, also was shown at the Tech Savvy event. Check out the video here.

Tech Savvy was created in 2006 by Tamara Brown, then-president of the AAUW Buffalo (New York) branch, and the event has since served more than 3,500 girls nationwide. As a result of her work, Brown was honored as a White House Champion of Change. Brown, who now works at Praxair, located in Danbury, Connecticut, provided the Tech Savvy CTplanning committee with insights and helped to recruit volunteers and volunteered herself at the day’s College and Career Corner.

Photos by John Atashian. View more photos.