(above photo) As Caroline Lewis, center, Murfreesboro Oakland High student takes notes, MTSU biology lecturer Amy Massengill utilizes "Pearl the Princess Pug" story about veterinarian careers.
Conference Created Curiosity
The 18th annual "Expanding Your Horizons in Math and Science Conference" on Saturday (9/20/20140 at MTSU attracted curious middle and high school females.
Lucy King was among the first to jump in and ask questions of Freneka Minter, "I'm curious by nature," said King, 13, of Franklin, Tennessee, and one of 49 Freedom Middle School students attending the conference.
(Above photo, L-R ID) Deshanna McGuire of Nashville watches as Mary Katherine Beshears of Franklin try to keep their marshmallow tower from falling during the "Marshmallow Tower Challenge. McGuire, 12, is a student at Bailey Middle School; Beshears, 13, is a Freedom Middle School student.
Middle and High School Girls Learned
Curiosity reigned supreme as many of the nearly 325 middle school and high school girls posed questions to Minter, high school keynote speaker Katrina Smith and 70 leaders of workshop with cool names like "Open Up and Say Woof," "Those Menacing Microbes," "Concrete is Lean, Green and Mean" and 20 more for the middle school students and six for the high school students.
This marked King's second Expanding Your Horizons, or EYH, conference. She attended as a seventh-grader in 2013, and is "into science" thanks to her father, Brad King, an implementation manager for Franklin-based Censitrac Technologies Inc.
Conference Gave Direction
"I'm leaning toward chemistry, genetics or computer science (as a career field)," said Lucy King (Left photo), who attended the microbes morning workshop led by biology professor Mary Farone and doctoral candidates Megan Stallard and Jeannie Stubblefield.
"The classes (workshops) are awesome," added King, who raved about the new Science Building, where her workshop was held. "I like the architecture and the roof is well-designed. Her afternoon workshops included astronomy and "Navigating Your Future," led by John Bautch of the Department of Military Science and cadets Maggie Battan, Kelly Slocum and Sarah Thurston.
It also was a second-time appearance for Savannah Craig, 16, of Tullahoma, Tennessee, a junior at Tullahoma High School. She attended with her friend Casey York, 16, of Lynchburg, Tennessee, a sophomore at Moore County High School. After lunch, when 125 pizzas were eaten by the teenagers and many volunteers, they were seen browsing through the new "I Am True Blue Blue" Admissions recruiting guide.
"There is a lot of good information, and I've learned a lot more about the school and more in-depth about science and math," Craig said.
Minter, who holds undergraduate and master's degrees from MTSU, told the girls to "Expand Your Horizons ... Expand Your Opportunities" in her talk.
"Try something new. You have to be brave and courageous," she said. "Sometimes you have to think outside the box and step outside your comfort zone. Take time to research and explore, and the only way to learn is to ask questions."
Both Minter and Smith work in different areas of research at Vanderbilt in Nashville. Minter serves as program coordinator in the Center for Health Services Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Smith is a research assistant in the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery.
Smith, 26 who graduated from MTSU in 2013, shared "Discovering the D.R.U.G. -- Determined, Resilient, Unwavering, Girl -- in You." She is open about being a single parent with a 6-year-old daughter and having the fortitude to graduate.
Many Shared Experiences
Along with faculty and grad students, workshop leaders included Lisa Smith, Patty MacQueen and Carissa Discepolo of Nissan USA; alumna Bobbie Jo Meredith and Valerie Gaskin of Schneider Electric; alumna Dara L. Dixon of Vanderbilt Medical Center; Susan Lewis, Tinita Haley and Bridget Gorta of Deloitte LLP; Lisa Reaney, Lanette Phillips and Ja'Monta Smith with the Tennessee Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division; Ali Roberts and Brandi Puet of Aegis Sciences Corp.; Sarah Porterfield of HCA; Heather Zigli of Microsoft; Cheryl Johnson of Newell Rubermaid; and Jere Matty, Rachel Garrard and Ashley Colvin of Arnold Engineering Development Complex in Tullahoma.
For more information about EYH and attending the 2015 conference, contact professor Judith Iriarte-Gross at 615-904-8253, email Judith.Iriarte-Gross@mtsu.edu or visit http://mtsu.edu/wistem/eyh/index.php. Iriarte-Gross serves as the director of the MTSU Women in STEM Center, also called WISTEM.