Girls’ school graduates are three times more likely to consider careers in engineering, and in honor of “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day,” Upper School students at Ashley Hall had the opportunity to interact with professionals representing eleven federal agencies, including the Air Force, U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Naval Nuclear Power Training Unit, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, VA Medical Center, Naval Health Clinic, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Naval Information Warfare Center. Students worked on several STEM projects, including problem solving an oil spill disaster, designing freestanding structures and nuclear fission models, and calculating helicopter weight loads. “I like that we get to learn about so many organizations and complete fun activities,” said Parker Gragg ’25. “It’s exciting that they’ve come here today.” Lt. Col. Rachel Honderd, Commander of the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District, opened the morning with a motivating talk about the power created when girls engage in STEM. “We are here to inspire you in STEM and show some of the amazing opportunities that are out there,” she said. “We hope to relate some practical applications of STEM and how they fit into the bigger world. It’s so important for you to experience this, because you are the future of our nation.”

The sessions offered students a chance to ask questions about future career possibilities and meet female role models. “It’s nice to learn about things that you don’t typically think about,” smiled Alexandria Vicente ’25. “I’m inspired by these women and their careers.” Fielding questions about their educational paths, daily lives, and favorite parts of their jobs, the presenters appreciated meeting students and encouraging their interest in STEM professions. “This school is amazing for having such a strong community, and you experience a close-knit camaraderie that we also have in the military, so when you leave here, you might find yourselves attracted to finding that close group of people who will help keep you grounded,” said Maj. Kayla L. Hill, Executive Officer of the 437th Airlift Wing, who was asked her opinion on the best way to increase the number of women entering military service. “A lot of it is word of mouth,” she noted. “If you meet a female aviator, then you begin to think, ‘If she can do it, I can too.’ I had never experienced that before I joined. I was searching for a mentor. Word of mouth or meeting someone goes a long way.”