Girl Force advocates for young women in STEM

Girl Force
Photo Courtesy of Sharmaine Sapon

By Alicia Brown

As part of a mission to bring the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) field to young girls all across the San Fernando Valley, for months nine Granada Hills Charter High School (GHC) International Baccalaureate (IB) students have launched a community
service project named Girl Force, or G Force.

Through the organization Girls Build Los Angeles (GBLA), created by the Los Angeles Promise Fund, G Force received a $1,000 grant to fund a community service project committed to advocating for young women in STEM.

LA Promise Fund selects 50 middle school and high school teams to compete in the Girls Build Challenge. GBLA is an initiative that encourages young women from public middle and high schools to use STEM principles along with 21st century learning skills to effect social change.

Once selected, teams receive seed funding, training, and materials to implement an original, community-based, and data-driven intervention. All teams integrate STEM principles and must address three core impact areas: Health & Wellness, Civic Engagement & Leadership, and STEM & College Access.

In order to meet the 6-10 member requirement, G Force gathered multiple people from different community service groups in the IB program to form a team. The students are seniors Emma Averill, Anamika Gupta, Elizabeth Hagopian, Isabel Nakoud, Mimi Parrott, Sharmaine Sapon, Emily Zepeda, and Samantha Zaragoza.

In order to receive the grant, G Force submitted a project proposal in September 2017 and received $500. They submitted a final project plan on December, 4, 2017 and received another $500 to fund their project.

“We were just really excited to get started with a real organization, and being able to partner with them is really empowering as they are giving us the opportunity to help make a bigger impact on the community,” Hagopian said.

With the $1,000 grant, G Force hosted a forum for women in STEM on February 3 in Highlander Hall. The all-girls event began at 10:00 a.m. and featured women from various STEM professions who shared their background and experiences.

“It’s so important for young girls to know there’s more for them in STEM and that it’s not only being a doctor and focusing in big popular professions. GBLA gives us the chance to expose them to all fields of STEM,” Gupta said.

GBLA has also offered G Force additional opportunities, including a leadership summit that was held on December 15, 2017. Members Emily Zepeda, Isabel Nakoud and Nadia Vargas saw prominent American women speak to the young women about their own personal experiences.

“Every time I think about that day, I think about how inspiring it was, especially seeing women like Hillary Clinton, Kamila Harris and even Olympians. It’s clear they all love what they are doing that they own what they are, and own what they love,” Vargas said.

GBLA was founded to reach out the community and make a difference, to teach girls just how much they can accomplish in STEM. All nine of these young women are advocating for change, and bringing it to their own community.

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