When Nadia Diaz and Abbi Rogers were students at American Fork High School, “inspirational” chemistry teacher Whitney Beckstead took them to SheTech Explorer Day three years running.
The chance to interact with women who had established careers in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) had a big influence on the teenagers. Both now 18, Diaz is now studying forensic science at Utah Valley University while Rogers is at Utah State University, studying veterinary science.
“I wouldn’t be majoring in veterinary science if it weren’t for SheTech,” Rogers said Thursday, when the Women Tech Council held its fifth annual event at Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy. “I learned about the science behind veterinary work. I knew I could make a career out of this.”
More than 2,000 high school girls were expected to take part in this year’s activities, ranging from building circuitry to cutting diamonds, under the watchful eye of mentors from private-sector tech companies such as Dealertrack, Cox Automotive, Domo, Ivanti, Adobe, Ancestry.com, AT&T, Dell EMC and Vivint Smart Home.
It’s likely that many of this year’s younger girls initially viewed science like Diaz did when she first went to SheTech as a sophomore. She hadn’t given it much thought as a career path.
But after three trips to the expo, Diaz had firsthand experience with a variety of subjects, from computer hacking to genetic testing. She found out what disciplines she didn’t care for — phlebotomy topped the list — but also discovered she had an affinity for forensic science after helping to solve a fake murder, in part by figuring out what kind of ink was used to write a ransom letter in the case.
“I walked out of the classroom knowing this was the field I wanted to go into,” Diaz said.