Girl Powered event at Portage High School inspires area youths

Girl Powered event at Portage High School inspires area youths
By: Portage Township School Corporation Last Updated: November 1, 2019

The Girl (Em)Powered Summit on Saturday exceeded all imagination! A guest Panel of 15 highly-successful, diverse, career women took Portage high school's new Learning Center by storm and shared their expertise and experience with 42 energetic young ladies from grades 4 through 12.

The day began with a "meet and greet," formal introductions, a Keynote address by the PTS Superintendent, and a video of the recent, historic, all-women spacewalk.

The morning portion featured speed-networking, career sharing, and activity stations with the highly successful women guests. The young lady attendees got minds and hands-on, engaging and connecting with the presenters in small groups.  After several group rotations, everyone enjoyed a break for some great food and conversation.

During the afternoon portion, the Career Women's Panel discussion allowed the young guests to ask numerous and very real questions.  Moderated by the student group "She Can Tech", Portage high school's women's STEM outreach group, heartfelt and tough questions by the young lady attendees were openly discussed by the panel. Their experiences, insights, and advice captivated the room leaving the kids inspired and empowered to pursue their passions.  No doubt, the lives of the presenters and students alike were positively impacted and perhaps changed.

The event was co-hosted by Portage Robotics, "The Porta-Botz!" and "She Can Tech", and made possible by a contingent generous student and parent volunteers. The Summit experience was the only one of its kind in northwest Indiana.

It is the mission of Portage Robotics to engage the community at multiple levels, actively promote STEM, and to pursue and involve traditionally underrepresented populations in the STEM fields.

The highly-successful, career women's panel included:

Dr. Amanda Alaniz: Superintendent, Portage Township Schools

Amanda Autrey: Entrepreneur and Owner of BAM Pizza

Ann Marie Caballero: Principal of William Fegely Middle School, former LPN.

Kelly Dallas: Principal Engineer, ArcelorMittal Steel

Aleksandra Dervisevic: Systems Engineer at Collins Aerospace

Marina Kirova: County-wide STEM Coordinator, Boys & Girls Club of Greater NWI

Marcella Kunstek: Construction Analyst, Retired State Police

Paula Miller: Chief Financial Officer, Co-Founder, Southlake Automation, Inc

Keegan Starkey: Assistant Chief Flight Instructor/CFI-I Flight Instructor, Eagle Aircraft

Holly Starkey: Office Manager and Student Advocate for Eagle Aircraft Flight School

Jennifer-Ruth Green: Pilot, Indiana Air National Guard, founder of the MissionAero Pipeline STEM Program for Youth

Jazzlynn Baines-Evans: Assistant Project Manager at NIPSCO, Gas Major Projects division.

Dr. Shaunna Finley: National Director of Professional Development at Communities In Schools, Arlington, Virginia. 

Faith Zettler: Purdue University, Lafayette, Polytechnic Institute Student. 

Dr. Chenn Zhou: Founding Director, Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation (CIVS) and the Steel Manufacturing Simulation and Visualization Consortium, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University Northwest