Combining service and academics, Centre College’s Girls in Engineering, Math and Science (GEMS) program has partnered with local schools to support young women and girls as they explore the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). A success for all involved, the program has allowed Centre students to share their passions and give back to the surrounding Danville community as they mentor elementary and middle school students.
Throughout each semester, student mentors visit Toliver Elementary, Bate Middle School and Boyle Middle School once a week to perform science experiments with girls and promote their interest in STEM-related fields.
GEMS president at Centre, Katie Malone ’19, explains that she and her fellow mentors aim to dispel stereotypes that discourage young women and girls from entering STEM fields.
“The goal of GEMS is to provide young girls with the support and assurance they need so that they can succeed in a STEM field,” she said. “A lot of young girls lose interest in these fields because of the societal pressure to do something more ‘suited for a woman,’ and our goal is to remove that kind of negative pressure.”
Malone also notes that she and other student mentors aim to have broader positive impact for girls, even beyond STEM fields.
“A lot of times my students say stuff like ‘I’m not smart enough’ in a joking way. I strive every week to try and get them out of that mindset. I hope that they have gained or will gain some kind of new self-love and self-confidence, even if it is not in a STEM field,” she said.
As for herself, Malone appreciates the personal connections and motivation that the GEMS program and Centre’s unique, tight-knit culture have fostered among her and her peers.
“I feel like the women who founded GEMS here at Centre and came before me are the ones who have really shaped me as a mentor,” she explained. “They are very much the friends Centre promises.”
Malone goes on to say that she hopes to continue working with young women and supporting their interests in STEM after she graduates.
“I definitely want to continue mentoring young girls to help them see a new side of themselves. Everyone deserves a chance to go for their dreams,” she concluded.
by Kathleen Murphy ’18
February 28, 2018