Saturday will mark the 30th year Texas Wesleyan holds an Expanding Your Horizons conference.
With several sites across the country, an EYH conference allows seventh- and eighth-grade girls to experience various workshops from professional women in the STEM fields.
At Texas Wesleyan, the conference will take place in the Sid W. Richardson Center between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Things begin with an opening presentation at 9:30 a.m. After that there are two hour-long workshops. Volunteers usually take the girls on a small campus tour before lunch. That is followed by two more workshops and a final presentation. There will be pizza for lunch, door prizes, and volunteers receive a T-shirt.
“The anniversary won’t be anything special, but fulfilling our message will,” said Dr. Jane Moore, who coordinates Wesleyan’s EYH site each year. “[With] our message [being] that girls can do Science, Technology, Engineering, Math—and you can have careers in that. Our message has stayed the same, and it still needs to go out there.”
Moore, who co-founded Wesleyan’s EYH site with the late Dr. LouAnn Mahaney, is looking for Wesleyan women to volunteer as group leaders. This year, she’s expecting the highest attendance yet.
“Over 500 are registered, but we hope 450 girls will attend,” Moore said. “We will have about 75 professional women from the community from all different businesses do the workshops. And we’ll have about 75-80 parents and teachers come.”
Junior biology major Nancy Huynh has volunteered at the conference for three years. She plans to volunteer this year also. Huynh first discovered EYH in seventh grade.
“We did impressions of our own teeth [at the dentist workshop], and we also injected a needle into a dummy [at the nursing workshop],” Huynh said. “I was happy to go the dentist as a child, but when I did the impressions on myself, I figured that was what I wanted to do.”
Huynh praised several aspects of the conference, including meeting volunteers from other universities; talking with workshop leaders who were still in college for their field; and the overall abundance of fun hands-on activities. She recalled the dentistry workshop being led by students from Texas A&M University College of Dentistry, as well as working with volunteers from Texas Christian University. Some of the activities Huynh remembers are eating liquid-nitrogen ice cream at the physics workshop and building plane models at the aviation workshop.
“Dr. Moore does a really great job with setting up the program,” she said. “I try to tell all my friends about this program and get them involved, because I get to interact with professionals and work with younger girls at other schools.”
One of those friends Huynh told EYH about was senior education major Pamela Parra.
“Nancy talked me into participating last year,” Parra said. “It was a great experience. The professionals are opening their wisdom up to different girls, and they’re talking about careers you wouldn’t even know you could get in to.”
Parra especially treasures the experience since she’s going into teaching.
“Since I’m gonna be a teacher, it opens my perspective on how to treat students in all these fields,” Parra said. “[The conference really helps with] breaking the difference between male-dominated fields and participation in the classroom. [And just as a volunteer], meeting with one of the girls for a brief time and talking with them can have a big impact.”
Student volunteers usually oversee a group of eight to 15 girls; the main job volunteers have is to escort and oversee the various girls throughout the conference.
“Our lady Texas Wesleyan students who are group leaders—they become kind of mentors and role models for the [junior high] girls who are in their group,” Moore said. “They get to go to four workshops and meet four professional women who are working in these fields. They get to give back by being mentors to the younger ones, and then they get to meet the professional women. It’s kind of a win-win situation all the way.”
To sign-up for volunteering in the conference, Moore has forms to fill out at her office in room 110 in the McFadden Science Center.
There will be a meeting for group leaders on Wednesday between 12:15 and 1 p.m. in room 106 at the McFadden Science center.