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Somerset County Girls Participate in STEM Program

Post Date:11/02/2018 10:30 AM
2018 STEM Program Participants

Freeholder Pat Walsh, seated at far right, is pictured with girls who participated in the third annual STEM program sponsored by the Somerset County Commission on the Status of Women. Also pictured, at left, are SCCSW Commissioners Stella Ayala, Smriti Agrawal and Aparna Virmani; at right are Commissioners Beverly Briggs-Lawson, Vaseem Firdaus and Marti Kalko, and Commission Chair Janice Fields.

Seventy-five girls from schools throughout Somerset County participated in the third annual STEM program sponsored by the county Commission on the Status of Women. It was held Oct. 27 at the county Vocational & Technical High School in Bridgewater.

“This was a wonderful opportunity for these girls to learn about potential careers and to practice teambuilding skills that will serve them in the future,” said Freeholder Patricia Walsh, commission liaison.

The program is designed to encourage seventh- and eighth-grade girls to prepare for future success in science, technology, engineering and math fields. The participating girls were from the Bernards, Bernardsville, Bound Brook, Branchburg, Bridgewater-Raritan, Franklin, Green Brook, Hillsborough, Montgomery, North Plainfield and Warren school districts.

Program sponsors this year included ExxonMobil, RWJBarnabas Health and the Somerset County Library System.

There also was a panel of successful STEM women who provided insights, answered questions and discussed possible mentoring opportunities. They included Amy Clingenpeel, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at ExxonMobil; Courtney A. Mitchell Abana, Ph.D., a senior chemical engineer at ExxonMobil; and Shazia M. Siddique, M.D., MSHP, a gastroenterologist and health services researcher at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

“Everyone on the commission was passionate about this program and we all worked together to make it a success,” said commission member Vaseem Firdaus, Ph.D., tolling manager at ExxonMobil. “It was a very rewarding experience to see the excitement among these young women and feel that we may have contributed to some of them choosing STEM careers. We hope to see some of them become leaders at major companies someday.”

The Commission on the Status of Women serves as an advisory board to the Board of Chosen Freeholders to address present and potential needs of women and to develop a greater public awareness of women’s issues. For more information, email or visit the commission’s webpage at

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