Assembly provides inspiration to Westwood High students
What goals had the six Westwood High alumni achieved? Jenny Church is a nuclear physicist working in global security; Karen Miller is a statistician in market research; Kristen Miller a structural engineer; Nicole (Mayne) Pellitier is a research associate in pharmacology and toxicology; Marjorie Quant is a flight test engineer in the United States Air Force; and Melissa (Wallace) White is a systems engineer.
Each speaker took about 15 minutes to describe their career and the steps they took to work in a field of their choosing. Their words inspired many students.
“The assembly was one of the most enlightening assemblies I have ever attended. Never before have I been so inspired to become something important in this life and in this world. It is very comforting to know that women who graduated from Westwood High School became extremely successful in not only college, but in their very important careers,” stated Darrah Medici, a senior.
The special event was titled “Women Making PI.” PI is the symbol for a mathematical number with a never ending decimal expansion 3.14159… It was taken from the Greek word for perimeter. It was a fitting title for the expansive opportunities high school graduates have when making career choices.
During the presentations each speaker gave tips on how students could achieve what they wanted in life.
Church said students needed to work hard and keep their eye on their goal.
Kristen Miller said she uncovered her career choice by taking advantage of opportunities she was given. For example, as an exchange student she was introduced to the job of structural engineering.
Although not the best student, White followed a teacher’s advice to apply for scholarships and that changed her life. She went on to college and landed a job a full four months before she got her degree.
Quant said she got a D in physics while in college and therefore lost her scholarship for a semester, but she persevered. She said it was important to take chances, find something enjoyable to do and be willing to fail.
Pellitier, a recent college graduate, searched for her dream job and waited to get a degree until she found a major that would place her in a field she loved. However, while majoring in biochemistry she volunteered in labs to make sure it was the right choice. The volunteer work also provided hands-on experience that helped her land a job when she graduated.
Karen Miller organized the assembly after a discussion she had with Pellitier about choices. It seems Pellitier had overheard a conversation between two young girls about mixing motherhood with high-energy careers. They assumed they could not do both.
Miller and Pellitier knew they could have a career and a family because they had strong women role models that encouraged them to excel in whatever fields they were passionate about. When they looked around to see where the strong women role models were today, they realized they were these women.
To show young women they can be successful in demanding careers and still have an extraordinary life, “Women Making PI” was organized. It consists of women with some of the most demanding jobs in the workforce.
“Math and science are arguably the most demanding fields above all others. They require the most rigorous education, a high level of organization and a willingness to confront failure time and time again. One could say people who work in the fields of math and science have a gift for dealing with challenge,” said Miller.
This group of Westwood High graduates managed to accomplish their goal of serving as role models to young women.
During an Advancement Via Individual Determination class, several students wrote good reviews on the assembly that showed.
Adriana Alexander, a freshman, wrote: “I thought the presentations were really inspiring. It made me think I could be anything I want to be, even if I come from a small school.”
Kiele Wallace learned students need to be passionate about their major and choose areas of study in which they are happy. “Everyone has a choice on what to do with their life,” she wrote.
Natasha Sherwood, a senior, wrote: “This assembly has motivated a lot of people I know and has made them want to do something more with their lives. It has touched them and made them realize that even small town people can make a difference.”
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