Wombat Club reaches out to AVID students when hosting Stem Fair at Menlo-Atherton High School
Editor’s note: M-A senior Cricket Gorey founded the WOMBAT Club at the school in 2014. The name is an acronym for Women of Medicine, Business and Technology. While M-A is 40% Latino, she noticed that few Latinas participated in WOMBAT programs. So, last month, she did a special outreach to AVID students as part of her Gold Award projects approved by the Girl Scouts of NorCal. The following article about the resulting STEM Fair originally appeared in M-A Chronicle.
On Tuesday, January 23, the Women Of Medicine, Business, and Technology (WOMBAT) Club had a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) event for Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) Students to learn about different career paths. Women of all backgrounds and STEM fields had tables set up around the Performing Arts Center Cafe, eager to share their stories of innovation.
Senior Cricket Gorey, founder of the WOMBAT Club, started the process of organizing the STEM fair back in November. “I reached out to the Anita Borg Institute, which helps promote women into computer science,” says Cricket. “They helped connect me to all these amazing women. I also reached out to old WOMBAT speakers.
“I contacted Erica Bland and asked her if AVID would be willing to take a day off class to visit a STEM fair. The fair was open at lunch to the whole school, and during fourth and fifth periods, several AVID teachers brought their students to the fair to hear the women speak. This was unique to the club… it’s usually just the monthly speakers. We’ve never had a big event like this before. It was a pretty exciting step forward for the WOMBAT Club.”
There were eight representatives from six different companies. Two women explained their respective positions as software engineer and biology researcher at 23 and Me, a genetic testing company. Lynne Thieme, a graduate of the University of Illinois in the Delta-Gamma sorority, continues her sorority work by helping blind athletes. Other speakers included Juanita Mah, a programmer working for Lantian Software, and representatives from Microsoft (Claudia Galvan), Broyhill Asset Management (Andrea Sefler) and HP, Inc (Sofia Marquez and Aja Hartman).
Cricket, along with co-founder Isabelle Sapountzis, began the club early in 2014 with a vision to inspire female students into medicine, business, and technology fields. “I went to the state science fair as a seventh grader, and I remember looking down the row of projects and noticing, there’s no other girls here. It was weird, that I was 12, and there was already a gender split. I kept thinking about that. So in freshman year, I thought, let’s do something about this!”
Isabelle has also followed her love of science. As a middle schooler, she joined robotics in spite of being the only female present. “It would make me a little sad. Why am I the only girl in here? Does nobody else feel comfortable enough to be in this class?”
Ever since she was young, Cricket has loved the wombat animal. “I was joking around that I’d start a wombat club, because of the name,” she explains. “Then I realized that it could stand for Women of Medicine, Business, and Technology.” With a name to the idea, the WOMBAT Club began.
Photo top from rrom left to right: Cricket Gorey,Juanita Mah (Lantian Software), Ksenia Kriksunov (23andMe), Andrea Sefler (Broyhill Asset Management), Lynne Thieme (Collegiate Services), Sofia Marquez (HP Inc.), Patricia Penton (23andMe), Aja Hartman (HP, Inc.), and Claudia Galvan (Microsoft)
Second photo: AVID students learn about different future careers at the STEM Fair