College Journey – Cadette Week!

By Rayanne Kruse

The first ever College Journey – Cadette Week, sponsored by the Fluor Foundation, wrapped up on Friday! The week long camp, hosted on the campus of University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), was for seventh and eighth grade girls that have an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This camp provided the girls with an urban camp experience to give them a taste of what college life will be like and empower them to choose STEM careers.

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College Journey took over the campus at UTD to provide the girls with a taste of college life, explore possible paths for their futures, and have fun! Some of the activities that the girls participated in included field trips to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and the Frontiers of Flight Museum. The Girl Scouts also learned about crime scene investigation from Dallas FBI agents and had the opportunity to do hands-on experiments. This camp is so amazing because it affords girls a range of opportunities that they may not have otherwise.

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Staying on a college campus really inspires girls to think about their own educational goals for the future. The Cadettes spent the week eating at the campus dining hall, living in the dorms, and taking advantage of some of the amenities such as the pool and Zumba classes!

One of the days included a field trip to EnCana Gas & Oil. The girls were greeted and mentored throughout the day by female STEM professionals, and had the opportunity to learn about different topics that included geology, natural gas vehicles, environmental protection, and they even played “STEM Jeopardy” to test their knowledge about natural resources. The Girl Scouts even received a special demonstration of a camera that shows pollution and heat from air pollutants, using infrared technologies, which helps keep corporations accountable to the environment.

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Many of the Girl Scout Cadettes expressed interest in STEM career opportunities for their futures. In one of the sessions, the girls discussed openly what they would like to be when they grow up. There were a large number of girls that were interested in very specific careers such as a pediatrics, electrical engineering, sports therapy, and archeology. It is inspiring to hear the diverse interests and aspirations that these young girls have at such an early age!

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College Journey is an awesome opportunity to encourage girls to explore higher education, and also to realize that STEM career fields are not gender specific. One way the girls realized this was at the professional networking lunch, sponsored by Texas Instruments. The Cadettes had the opportunity to meet and network with female STEM professionals from the Dallas area.  One of the groups I spoke to said they didn’t want to go home because they had been learning so much and rarely get the opportunity to designate so much time to STEM. Luckily we have STEM events throughout the year so these girls will be able to scratch their STEM itch until next summer’s camp!

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