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2012 Athena Pinnacle Awards Nominees - Educator

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Congratulations to our 2012 nominees. Athena would like to thank everyone who nominated and contributed the following excerpts for these exceptional candidates.

Constance Carroll, Ph.D.
Chancellor
San Diego Community College District

Chancellor Carroll’s distinguished career in higher education stems from her educational excellence for a diverse student population. Serving her 33rd year as a chief executive officer in the community college sector, Carroll has led her institutions in development of programs that address these diverse needs. She is the first woman and the first African-American to serve as the CEO of each organization she has led. Carroll has mentored countless community college leaders, nationally and in California, through her successful involvement in positions of line authority, through her professional association leadership, and her willingness to adapt her leadership style to evolving organizational and societal circumstances. With a total enrollment of more than 100,000 students, the San Diego Community College District is the second largest community college district in California and ranks sixth in the nation. Comprised of a 55 percent female student body, the SDCCD is led by 46 percent women managers. With Chancellor Carroll's commitment to succession planning and promotion of women, the SDCCD offers a Classified Leadership Development Academy and Management Leadership Academy.

Carroll is on the Board of Directors of San Diego Opera and San Diego Youth Services, is on the University of San Diego’s Board of Trustees, and is a member of the Board of Governors for the San Diego Foundation. She has a strong sense of service, both on the national and regional levels. Nominated by President Barack Obama and appointed in 2011, Carroll serves as a member of the National Council on the Humanities.

Carroll has been a strong promoter of both early college high school and middle college high school programs, which are operated in conjunction with the San Diego Unified School Districts. These programs are characterized by graduation rates in excess of 90 percent and college matriculation rates that are even higher. To counter the huge discrepancy in enrollment of women in non-traditional majors, Carroll’s support in innovative programs also include cohort education, learning communities and methods that ensure the success of the most challenged students that attend community colleges. Other distinguishing service includes her tenure on the American Council on Education Commission on Women in Higher Education and Advisory Board to Ms. Magazine and the Foundation for Education.

Gabriele Wienhausen, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Education
University of California, San Diego

Dr. Wienhausen has had a profound impact in multiple arenas, including founding Provost of the University of California, San Diego’s Sixth College which is dedicated to interdisciplinary thinking, seeing, and listening in culture, arts, and technology; founder and co-director of the Doctoral Program in Mathematics and Science Education; principal investigator (PI) for the Pacific Rim Experience for Undergraduate Summer Research; PI for the Howard Hughes Science Enrichment Program; co-director of the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science; and Associate Dean for Education, Division of Biological Sciences.

She has had an impact on female faculty at large in her role as co-founder and steering committee member of the Women’s Leadership Alliance, which is dedicated to leadership development, recognition, and networking of women campus leaders at UCSD.

Wienhausen developed “A Commitment to Diversity: Foundation for the Future,” a guide for developing a culture of inclusion in the Division of Biological Sciences. This blueprint invites faculty, staff, and students to create a culturally welcoming and professionally enriching environment through outreach, introspection, and discussion. Since women and minorities are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, Wienhausen created PRIME and co-founded TIES. PRIME offers internships in Pacific Rim countries. Wienhausen personally encourages participation by female and other underrepresented students through the Association for Women in Science (AWIS), National Society for Black Engineers and Black Student Union. TIES provides local, community-based team internships in engineering and technology. Students join student-directed and faculty-advised projects to design, construct, test, and deploy solutions for client nonprofit organizations.

Wienhausen also co-authored and co-implemented the 2005 grant establishing COSMOS UCSD, an intensive summer residential program for students grades 8-12 with a demonstrated aptitude in STEM fields. Students work with faculty, researchers, and scientists to explore topics far beyond those usually covered in high school. Through a challenging hands-on curriculum, COSMOS fosters interests, skills, and awareness of career options in STEM fields. For 12 years, Wienhausen served as PI for the Howard Hughes Undergraduate Science Enrichment Program, designing, implementing, and managing the High School Science Enrichment Program, Lower Division Undergraduate Support, and Upper Division Research Projects, as well as outreach programs for three high schools in Southeast San Diego.

Kristie Grover
Executive Director
BIOCOM Institute

Kristie Grover’s drive and enthusiasm, along with her ability to take even the smallest opportunity and turn it into something great, have allowed her to achieve her goal of creating a nonprofit, self-sustaining organization, the BIOCOM Institute. The institute is dedicated to supporting science education and creating pioneering opportunities for female students, teachers, and scientists within the Southern California region. When Kristie heard from company executives that they had hiring needs, but lacked female applicants with specific training, she worked with academic and industry partners to create industry-driven work force training programs and secured $9.5 million in grant funding. BIOCOM Institute’s programs have trained hundreds of female students in the life science and industrial biotechnology fields using a wide variety of strategies ranging from hands-on classroom training to online courses, paid internships, and academic classes at UCSD, San Diego State University and Mira Costa College.

Kristie has hired an all-female staff at BIOCOM Institute, who she mentors and sends to workshops/classes to promote career advancement. Kristie also promotes K-12 education for girls by participating in local STEM activities like the High Tech Fair, San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering EXPO DAY, and Expanding Your Horizons. Under Kristie’s leadership, BIOCOM Institute was recently voted as the host the of 2013 San Diego Science & Engineering Festival.

Kristie developed an innovative program to bring female scientists into middle school classrooms to teach hands-on lessons directly related to the science standards the students are learning. The scientists also share stories of their career paths and talk about the breadth of STEM careers available to women. Students who were inspired by these interactive learning opportunities reported an 82 percent increase in content knowledge. To date, the Science Education Speakers Bureau has impacted more than 4,000 students in San Diego.

Kristie chairs BIOCOM’s Scholarship Committee, which recognizes and supports those students demonstrating academic excellence and a desire to pursue research in a broad range of life sciences related technologies. She has been an active member of several professional organizations including the ARCS Foundation, Biotech Employee Development Coalition, Connect Ed Biomedical and Health Industry Council, EDC Workforce Action Team, A-G Education Consortium, San Diego Biotechnology Education Consortium, and the UCSD Express to Success Advisory Committee. Kristie also works tirelessly to promote BIOCOM Institute’s programs by attending several forums each week, from career fairs to Rotary Club meetings, and networking events. Under Kristie’s leadership, the BIOCOM Institute has fostered collaborative partnerships with five established STEM education organizations that have already demonstrated measurable, positive results individually.

Lisa Scheck
High School Teacher
Mark Twain High School

Lisa has demonstrated the highest level of commitment to her students at Mark Twain High School. She integrates the academic requirements (state mandates) into experiential learning which is especially important with the population she teaches — at-risk students with little parental support, and minimal district support financially. She builds rapport with her students through in-class activities and community service work.

In general, one can poll her graduates and they would report a love of learning the sciences with Lisa. She develops this through innovative and creative programs and lessons that captivate the attention of her students. She has had graduates pursue careers in the health sciences as medical technologists, patient care positions, up to and including nursing. Several students over the years have returned to speak to her students about how they learned so much through Lisa’s creative lessons and obvious love of the sciences. I believe she is an unsung hero of our schools — often overlooked, rarely quantified officially, but one knows through student’s responses year in and year out, that she is well appreciated for what she passes on to her students.

Scheck serves as department chair for the cluster of schools associated with the Mark Twain main campus. She is the go-to chair for all sciences (biology, chemistry, physics and Earth sciences). Scheck has also continually demonstrated leadership within the school and the family of continuation schools associated with Mark Twain, but also manages the yearbook, student body (ASB) and senior prom activities. One might ask, "Does this relate to the Athena awards?" The answer is “yes” emphatically, because as an admired teacher, Lisa's students also are expanding their role and school activities as a result of her support. This particular school's population depends on leadership such as Lisa's, and she is responsible for enriching her student's lives beyond the classroom.

Penny Rue, Ph.D.
Vice-Chancellor, Student Affairs
University of California, San Diego

Rue is passionate about the need to not only provide students with opportunities to access the sciences, she also addressed the needs to support them while they were on the campuses studying. Her education and experience provided an opportunity to learn about the specific support networks needed on campus in order to support under-represented populations to become successful in STEM. Rue was a pioneer herself in holding leadership positions at traditionally male dominated universities such as Georgetown University, University of Virginia and now University of California, San Diego. Her extensive experience speaks to the many roles she has played formally mentoring young women in higher education.

Rue is an avid contributor in and supporter of the San Diego Science Festival. The mission of the festival is to draw on the strengths of San Diego’s corporate and organizational diversity across STEM industries in order to advance the local and national economy by building a pipeline of future scientists.

In addition, Dr. Rue's academic background is in counseling, where she recognizes the varying needs that students have with regard to mental health. She has been an active volunteer in organizing community awareness programs such as suicide awareness campaigns, along with other "unconventional" ways in which to bring awareness and education to both the university community and surrounding communities about the complexities of mental health and its impact on students' success. Finally, Dr. Rue has also managed crisis prevention and management programs on campuses, receiving national recognition for her creative work.

Rue empowers women and under-represented ethnicities to be able to "show up" in ways that make them successful while maintaining their ethnic and gender identities. She empowers graduate students to be fully feminine and fully intellectual, and she teaches them to critically inquire and advocate respectfully for their needs.

Shara Fisler
Executive Director
Ocean Discovery Institute

Shara has successfully networked and built strategic partnerships with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USD, Life Technologies, Gen-Probe and Qualcomm, among others, to advance the mission of transforming young lives through science. The Ocean Discovery Institute uses science exploration to engage urban and diverse young people. Their discoveries are advancing the published body of research around sustainability and resource conservation, and will reveal new ways to protect the ocean and nature, improve the health of our communities, and strengthen the quality of life in our world. Shara's relentless leadership and mentoring has been at the core of her success. Her leadership recently resulted in ODI receiving the President's Award for Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math mentoring from the White House.

Ocean Discovery Institute heads up a series of initiatives that incorporate education, scientific research, and environmental stewardship. Currently, these initiatives reach more than 4,500 low-income students and community members each year. To ensure continued effectiveness, regular program assessments are conducted by a professional external evaluator with a doctorate from Harvard University. More 50 percent of those served are women. 100 percent of these graduates enroll in further education as opposed to 30 percent of their high school peer group. These women also achieve a science GPA of 3.65 compared to 1.91 in their peer group. 73 percent of these emerging leaders who have declared a major, have done so in the science and environmental fields. In addition, Shara mentors and leads a staff that is 70 percent women.

In addition to students, 72 teachers participated in professional development workshops and six biotechnology companies worked hands-on with students through the STEM Volunteer Corps developed by Shara. She is a Bank of America Community Leadership Award recipient and participated in their leadership development program. She applied her learning through partnerships with USD, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Birch Aquarium, SDSU, Barrio Logan College Institute, Volunteer San Diego and The Swan Canyon Neighborhood Association to engage in community outreach, community development and professional development, in an effort to improve her effectiveness to support and develop other community leaders.

The women Shara serves in City Heights all come from economically challenged backgrounds, many are immigrants and will be the first member of their families to attend college. Shara recognized early on that working with young women from at-risk communities required an alternative approach to simply providing education. As a result, she has developed a leadership and mentoring model that includes intensive immersion in scientific and environmental study, academic support and college readiness, as well as internship and fellowships to support continued academic success beyond high school.

Dorothy Sears, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Medicine
University of California, San Diego

Dorothy Sears, associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, has accumulated a substantive body of research in the fields of obesity, insulin resistance and inflammation. She has published 29 articles which have been cited in more than 700 scholarly articles. She has also secured independent research funding from a variety of sources, including the National Institutes of Health and private foundations. Dorothy is an internationally recognized expert in obesity and Type 2 diabetes research. She has recently broadened her focus to include breast cancer and dietary interventions for reducing disease risk. She has been an invited speaker at the National Institutes for Health, the Aegean Conference Series, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Maryland. Dorothy serves on the Research Grant Review Committee for the American Diabetes Association.

Dorothy is president of the Association for Women in Science San Diego Chapter (AWIS-SD), which supports girls and women who are interested in science through community outreach, scholarship and career development programs. She chairs the board and oversees the activities of eight committees and more than 300 members. She organizes and presents career development seminars as a Strategy Sessions Committee member, interacts with middle and high school girls at the annual Balboa Park Science Fair as an AWIS-SD award judge, and served on several panels aimed to educate girls and young women about careers in science. In recognition of her significant contributions, Dr. Sears received the AWIS-SD Outstanding Volunteer Award in 2009. Both at UCSD and in the local community, she is a mentor to undergraduate, graduate, medical, and pharmacy doctoral students and postdoctoral and clinical fellows. Dorothy currently leads a team of six women co-investigators in conducting an obesity clinical trial.

Dorothy is vice-chair of the UCSD School of Medicine Admissions Committee, helping to support UCSD’s interest in recruiting a diverse medical school class. She has been a member of the Admissions Committee for five years and will serve as Committee Chair starting in fall 2012. Dorothy has been a member of the UCSD Core Curriculum Committee for the last two years, through which she joins the School of Medicine leadership in reviewing, optimizing, and promoting medical education excellence at UCSD. Dorothy has given volunteer presentations on professional networking to the Postdoctoral Association and on insulin resistance to the primary care clinicians at UCSD. She serves as President of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) San Diego Area Community Leadership Board and Chair of the ADA Research Committee. Through her leadership in these groups, she supports the ADA’s mission of education, community outreach, volunteer recruitment and fundraising for all individuals affected by diabetes.

Ebonee Williams, Ph.D.

Managing Director

University of California, San Diego-Gordon Engineering Leadership Center

Dr. Williams has had a commitment to students since she herself was a graduate student at the University of Washington. Upon moving to San Diego, Dr. Williams worked first in the Office of Graduate Studies and Research as the recruitment and retention diversity officer. With this position, she was able to counsel graduate students to help them navigate graduate school and created a community for them to fellowship among one another. After a year in OGSR, Dr. Williams was hired as the practicum coordinator at Sixth College to teach undergraduates how to apply their education to the world around them, as well as the process of reflection. Being that she was still on campus, she maintained her relationships with graduate students and developed new relationships with undergraduates. Currently, as the managing director of the Gordon Center, she creates a training program for engineering undergraduate and graduate students to become leaders upon graduation.

Dr. Williams is currently mentoring a technical project for the students in the Society of Women Engineers at UCSD. They are competing in Team Tech, a national competition hosted by Boeing. Dr. Williams supports a program for women who want to be entrepreneurs, co-sponsored by the College of Engineering and the Rady School of Business. She has written letters of support and recruits women for the program. She has taken numerous young African-American women under her wings and been a role model for professionalism and success through education.

As a board member for three years for the Urban League, she coordinated the Corner Office program. Through this program, she provided professional development opportunities as well as mentoring by connecting young professionals and college students to corporate executives. She also assisted with the 40 under 40 program, which acknowledged up and coming high achieving young professionals in San Diego. Dr. Williams is also on the planning committee for the Golden Pyramid, which recognizes academic achievements for African-American K-12 students. Dr. Williams is currently the chair-elect for the regional Alumni Extension for the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Through her tenure, she trained the newly elected collegiate leadership, mentored approximately a dozen undergraduates, helped recruit and program for K-12 engineering bound students, and attended regional conferences to train other leaders in the NSBE organization.

For approximately four years, Dr. Williams tutored young African-American women from College Bound San Diego (CBSD). CBSD is a nonprofit organization start by concerned parents in the Poway Unified School District to empower your African-American youth to be successful in achieving educational triumphs. In addition to tutoring, she taught an intensive summer math clinic for young women who were struggling with the subject during the school year. All of these students have attended a four year institution and most are close to graduating from college. For two consecutive years, Dr. Williams hosted an interactive STEM panel for young African-American women, an event hosted by the National Council of Negro Women.

Katherine Kantardjieff, Ph.D.

Dean, College of Science and Mathematics

California State University, San Marcos

Katherine brings to the CSUSM dean position a record of administrative leadership, scholarly research, including promoting undergraduate research. She received her B.S. in chemistry and biology from University of Southern California, and her M.S. and Ph.D. in physical chemistry from University of California, Los Angeles. Previously, Katherine was professor and chair of chemistry at Cal State Pomona, as well as director of the Keck Foundation Center for Molecular Structure and co-director of the Center for Macromolecular Modeling and Materials Design. Prior to joining California Polytechnic State University in 2009, Katherine was a faculty member at Cal State Fullerton for more than 20 years. At the national level, Katherine has been vice chair and is currently chair of the U.S. National Committee for Crystallography at the National Academy of Science, where she leads efforts to develop policies on training and education in crystallographic science, as well as actively engaged in the "Latin American Initiative," to promote science in Latin American countries.

Katherine believes CSU has a special role to play in higher education by providing opportunities for a large population of nontraditional students who otherwise have fewer options for advancement. She established the first core facility enabling faculty and students to access scientific instruments from remote locations, a model concept expanded regionally and nationally to engage historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), HSIs, community colleges and high schools. In 2008, Campus Technology Magazine honored Katherine as a “national innovator.” She is a recognized expert in remotely enabled instruments and continues to develop state-of-the-art research capabilities. In 2009, Kantardjieff received the Andreoli Faculty Service Award, the highest honor given by the California State University Program for Education in Research and Biology. The award honors a Cal State faculty member who has made outstanding contributions to the development of biotechnology programs in the university system. Katherine’s activities integrate ideas across traditional intellectual boundaries, promoting diversity.

In January 2012, Katherine was inducted onto the Connect Board of Directors to represent the Cal State San Marcos campus. Perhaps considered “new” to the San Diego region, she did not waste any time engaging in community events and initiatives such as being the featured speaker for the Center for Ethics in Science and Technology at the Reuben H. Fleet Center, addressing the technical, social, and ethical implications of conducting science in the information age. Katherine is also currently serving on the San Diego Science Festival of Science and Engineering advisory council, and will present at the Science Speed Round (a series of short, sharp, expertly referred talks by some of San Diego’s finest minds). Katherine’s topic: “Crystals and Life: How X-ray Crystallography Contributes to the Development of New Therapeutics.”

Lakshmy (Uma) Krishnan

Science Teacher

Torrey Hills School

In addition to her regular job as a lab science teacher, Krishnan has spent countless hours on extracurricular science activities designed to interest her students in science. For example, she has fielded a Science Olympaid team for years. She has also developed a robotics programs at the school and has had teams participate in the FLL Robotics league and fields teams for Science Field Day every year as well. She runs three "lunch clubs" at the school. Krishnan creates a wonderful environment for girls interested in science, as well as a great environment for all students and encourages a love of science.

Krishnan creates a wonderful environment for girls interested in science. She offers many hands-on, investigative activities through her weekly science labs as a science teacher — something that is rapidly disappearing from public schools. She also provides many extracurricular opportunities to her students during lunch and after school, including Science Olympiad, Science Field Day, FLL Robotics league, and the lunch clubs "Garden Club", "Critter Crew" and "Green Patrol." She has fielded a Science Olympiad team for years. Science Olympiad is a national science competition generally restricted to middle and high schools. Last year, her team of 5th and 6th graders made it to the state championships, and competed very well against teams of 7th and 8th graders — the team was half girls. In fact, her activities generally have more than 50 percent girls participating, and she often creates all-girl teams. She has also developed a robotics programs at the school and has had all-girls teams participate in the FLL Robotics league. She often gives girls opportunities to be leaders in these activities. For example, 6th graders can act as coaches for 4th and 5th graders for Science Field Day events, which allows the coaches to take leadership roles. She creates a great environment and encourages a love of science in her students and makes room for all students.

Michelle Camacho Walter, Ph.D.

Chair/Associate Professor, Department of Sociology

University of San Diego

Michelle is currently co-principal investigator on two large National Science Foundation grants that are designed to promote women in STEM. She is a researcher, author and university professor whose expertise specifically relates to understanding and promoting women and underrepresented minority groups in STEM. Her academic career, however, followed an atypical trajectory. Born on the South Side of Chicago, Michelle Camacho is the first in her extended family to attend college. She grew up speaking both Spanish and English in a single parent working class household. Living in poverty motivated her to pursue higher education, and she ultimately completed her Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine. Her trajectory has been marked by persistence and tenacity. As a result, she has received several grants and awards including a Fulbright Fellowship, Innovation in Experiential Education award and nominations for the Woman of Impact award at the University of San Diego, where she is currently the chair and associate professor for the Department of Sociology.

Camacho inspires and mentors underrepresented students on a daily basis. Camacho is an active supporter of the McNair Program, and works daily mentoring numerous low income and first generation college students to encourage them to expand educational opportunities by enrolling in Ph.D. programs. In 2011, she was nominated by students and awarded the prestigious McNair Mentor of the Year Award, a recognition named after African-American physicist/astronaut Ronald McNair. She has advised hundreds of students in her capacity of professor, working with student research projects, engaging them in interdisciplinary research, and has taken many students to national and regional conferences. In 16 years of teaching at the college level, she has advised, inspired and mentored hundreds of undergraduate students. One former student (now a Ph.D.), published a journal article about Camacho titled “On the Backstages of Mentorship,” describing the numerous formal and informal ways in which Camacho provided guidance and wisdom.

Camacho gives national public presentations related to the “chilly” climate and the paucity of women in engineering and some science and math fields. Based on this work, she has served as a reviewer in Washington, D.C. for the National Science Foundation’s Gender in Science and Engineering program. She successfully co-wrote a grant and serves as the co-principal investigator for a NSF ADVANCE grant (Increasing the Participation and Advancement of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Careers) funded at $599,000 through 2016. This grant will help advance female faculty in STEM fields by changing the institutional climate at the University of San Diego and building new programs to retain and mentor women faculty. Her new research will critically examine family/work/life balance issues for women in STEM fields and how these factors affect persistence. She also co-authored a new NSF Institutional Transformation grant (for more than $3 million).

Camacho’s research involves exploring the socio-cultural factors that promote persistence among women and minorities in all STEM fields, especially in engineering education, where women make up less than 20 percent. Funded by a $480,000 National Science Foundation’s Gender in Science and Engineering grant, Camacho’s team conducted focus group research among undergraduate women, as well as quantitative analysis using a dataset of more than 70,000 engineering majors. Her collaborative research discovered that women (of all ethnic groups) who matriculate into engineering education persist among the highest rates of any majors. These findings, which were highlighted in the Chronicle of Education, suggest that the greatest obstacle in engineering for women is not retention, rather it is recruitment. These findings have been presented at the American Society for Engineering Education, Frontiers in Education, and published in the Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, the Journal for Engineering Education, and the Journal for Hispanic Higher Education and Latino Studies.

Saura Naderi

Founder and Director

myLab at University of California, San Diego and Calit2

Saura Naderi, a UCSD Jacobs School Electrical Engineering alumna with a passion for inspiring students to take risks with ideas is dedicated to developing skills to realize those ideas and share the joy of invention. She conceived The myLab Program to provide an environment where kids could informally gain hands-on practical engineering experience while having fun. The first time she offered basic robotics and programming, and she personally drove young African-American girls from low-income housing to UCSD to ensure attendance. She was shocked to learn the low level of science they were being taught in school. She then realized myLab program’s true mission — provide engineering-based projects where undergraduates and underrepresented youth work together to innovate. Saura also teaches summer high school courses on campus, inspiring youth to pursue STEM fields based on her passion, intellect and ability to inspire and really show kids how cool how STEM really is.

Saura works with 40 kids, mostly girls, at the Town and Country Village Learning Center (TCLC). To inspire this population on many levels, Saura turned to the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) for support, who featured her as a speaker at their regional conference in November 2010. But San Diego did not have a Junior Chapter of NSBE, so she started one by recruiting a Preuss Student to lead it this year, which has eight members (six girls and two boys). Their mission is to provide engineering outreach opportunities.

Saura enjoys the full support and admiring of the Dean of Engineering and Director of the new Inclusion, Diversity and Engineering Advancement Center for her success in building a pipeline of talent to engineering from these underrepresented groups, not just a one day visit but a systemic approach to engage, ‘en’spire, and sustain the flow of talent from less-served areas.

Saura sought the guidance of professional women whom she admired on campus and within Athena to get myLab going. Self-funded initially, Saura raised $29,000. In the fall of 2011, she was hired by Calit2-UCSD. She has the support of two development officers, one grant writer, and the Director of Diversity helping her with funding and enjoys unconditional support getting corporate funding. A crowning moment of Saura's efforts to get girls excited about science and engineering is the invitation to speak at TEDx, featuring her work with 20 under-served girls in East County to build mechanical and software-enabled hats to show off at Hat Day at the Del Mar Races.

Saura knows the key is to bring engineering science and math to what her students like: fashion and socialization. Girl’s Hat Day is just one example of this. Saura got ViaSat to sponsor the materials, T-shirt tanks and a limo so the girls felt special. Most of the girls want to become engineers nown and said they did not know engineering was so much fun. Saura taught programming, soldering, mechanics and solar power concepts to the groups.

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