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iWish Campus Day UCC Hosted By The UCC Wistem Society

On the 6th of February, the UCC WiSTEM Society hosted 80 Carrigaline Community School (CCS) TY students, 25 Crab Lane primary students, along with over 50 of their own society members in the Aula Maxima in UCC for their inaugural iWish UCC Campus Day.

Students arrived at UCC at 12.30pm where they were met by WiSTEM society members for a reception of light refreshments, treats and displays by the UCC Chemistry Department in the Aula Maxima with grand piano accompanist, Caoimhe Doyle (second year financial maths, UCC WiSTEM2D scholar, WiSTEM society secretary). Attendees were welcomed by Lauren Andrews – Chair of WiSTEM Society UCC, from Carrigaline. The girls received information on the iWish Alumni program and iWish externship with a short video from 2019 by Ruth Buckley, co-founder of iWish and Amy Dolan, 3rd year BIS student/ iWish alumni/ 2019 externship recipient/ 2019 UCC WiSTEM2D scholar.

Mary Good COO of the American Chamber of Commerce who is also a resident in Carrigaline and a native of Minane Bridge, gave a keynote speech which inspired the audience. Mary is a true role model for all young aspiring stem graduates. Hannah Looney MSD, iWish alumni, Cork camogie and football all-star also contributed on the day to highlight the importance of balance and opportunity. Both keynote speakers are UCC alumni.

A panel discussion facilitated by Ruth Buckley, concerned the impact initiatives like iWish and WiSTEM has on young girls from second level all the way up to full employment. Panellists included, Fiona Lynch (medical manager of J&J), Caroline Holland (R&D Beverage packaging engineer WESA Europe at PepsiCo), Amy Dolan, Julia Sheehan (WiSTEM vice chair, iWish alumni and 2nd year financial maths), Kate Madden (Fenuhealth) and Weronika Mosiej (CCS TY student).

The society itself was founded in 2018 with an ethos to support women at every level to achieve their full potential and to promote gender diversity in Science Technology Engineering and Maths. Through hard work and passion, the society has received a tremendous amount of support and their success has been recognised, as they were awarded the National Best New Society by the board of Irish college societies in 2019.

The society runs an array of successful events (1, 2 even 3 a week) from LinkedIn workshops, Assessment Centre Training with Vodafone, Interview and CV workshops, public speaking, events on climate change and AI. These events are facilitated by the 14 girls who run the society alongside collaboration with different companies who support their ethos.

I WISH is an initiative to inspire, encourage and motivate young female students to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. STEM can change our world. We have so many world problems to solve – food shortage, climate change, pollution, ageing population. These will be solved through STEM if you help us harness the power of thousands of girls to shape a better world.

I WISH (Inspiring Women in Stem) features a conference and interactive exhibitions, founded by Caroline O’Driscoll, Ruth Buckley and Gillian Keating. A conference was held in Cork City Hall on January 30th/31stfollowed by The RDS in Dublin. The conference also featured workshops, daily keynotes and engaging talks by women and men who have seen the opportunities for a great career in STEM.

I Wish has grown since its first event in 2015. To date I Wish has reached out to nearly 17,000 students and have a goal to increase their student reach in 2020.

For the last 3 years WiSTEM has supported iWish through volunteers and this year a record breaking 78 UCC WiSTEM society volunteers were involved in iWish.

The UCC SEFS department work very closely with the society and give a great amount of support, Prof. Sarah Culloty had this to say: “Finding a pathway towards a career in STEM can be incredibly rewarding but also challenging when we know that there is still a way to go in terms of balanced gender and diversity representation. The society has provided a collegiate, supportive, networking environment for our female undergraduates that will have long term benefits for their chosen pathway and long after they have left UCC” – Professor Sarah Culloty, Head of College of Science Engineering and Food Science UCC.

The WiSTEM society has benefitted greatly from the ongoing generous support it receives from Johnson and Johnson through their collaboration with WiSTEM2D. J&J have facilitated site tours to Janssen Ringaskiddy, collaborated on careers events and provided funding for WiSTEM2D scholarships for WiSTEM members in STEM fields in UCC and 1-1 mentors.

Liz Dooley, Head of biologics, clinical supply chain, Janssen R&D at The Janssen Pharmaceutical companies of Johnson and Johnson who works very close to the society had this to say: “You cannot be what you cannot see” – much research points to the invaluable presence of role models in encouraging young girls to study STEM subjects.

A combination of both academia and extra-curricular work resonates why UCC is a centre of excellence for all students who pass through the college. The support received helps every individual grow as a person.

Lauren Andrews , a native of Carrigaline is the current chairperson of the society since March 2019 has been proactively involved since the beginning where she was initially involved in Public Relations.

“I am currently in my final year of Microbiology in UCC and throughout the past 4 years extra curriculars have played major role in my college experience. Being involved in the UCC WiSTEM society has really made my time in UCC and illustrates how UCC is an out and out centre of excellence as students leave with so much more than just a degree.

"The ethos of the society is something I have always strongly believed in which is why being elected chairperson was such an honour. As chair I have been given a platform to be a role model to young girls and to illustrate the prevalence of STEM and to encourage others on the opportunities which it holds.

"I firmly believe that to be the difference you must first be the difference which is why over the summer in 2019 I took the u12/14 camogie team in Carrigaline for a workshop on the science behind sport, I volunteer every Wednesday to teach young girls practical STEM skills and I have been involved in many outreach campaigns.

"I am very grateful for the opportunities and guidance I have been given over my time with WiSTEM which is why I only feel it is right for me to give back to others who will one day be in my position. I feel role models and mentors play a major role in early development and I have been very lucky to receive a 1-1 mentor this year when I was awarded the 4th year Johnson and Johnson WiSTEM2D bursary.

"This has played a huge role in my final few months in UCC.” The support and guidance we have received from both UCC and numerous companies has been second to none and this is something I look at continuing going forward."

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