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SMC chemistry society promotes service, scholarship

| Friday, January 25, 2019

The Saint Mary’s College Affiliates of the American Chemical Society (SMAACS) has steadily become more involved with other STEM clubs, as well as with the greater Saint Mary’s community over the years.

“We have more social events in the spring,” club advisor and assistant chemistry professor Dr. Jennifer Fishovitz said. “We partner up with other clubs and outside organizations in order to create a larger community of STEM majors.”

Building community among STEM majors at Saint Mary’s has become a major goal of SMAACS.

“We’re trying to make our mark, and to create a real presence for women in a typically male environment,” senior club secretary Anna Shadid said.

Smaller events for this semester involve engaging local schools and bringing in new STEM majors, Shadid said.

“We’re going to give a prize at the Marian High School science fair and we’ll have a station at the Northpoint Elementary science fair as well,” she said.

SMAACS president and senior chemistry and chemical engineering major Kyra Dvorak said that one of her favorite club activities is helping kids get interested in science.

“A lot of kids think they can’t do science. They see it as too complicated and difficult,” Dvorak said. “We want to encourage them to pursue science and show them a way to get involved and interested.”

One of the SMAACS’ major events for the spring semester is its partnership with the Me To We organization. It partners with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Campus Ministry at Saint Mary’s to sell jewelry made by women in developing countries.

“Me To We works with craftswomen in developing countries,” senior Heather DiLallo said. “They partner with colleges and institutions to raise awareness while allowing the women to have a wider market in which to sell their products. The money goes back to the communities, and we’ve chosen to support education for women in Tanzania.”

There are two reasons SMAACS has chosen to support the women of Tanzania, DiLallo said.

“One of our chemistry majors who graduated [in 2016], Natalie Hartman, went to Tanzania and did research there,” DiLallo said. “And as we are a women’s college, we want to put an emphasis on education for women.”

Several other club officers agreed with DiLallo, and discussed their own unique experience as a STEM major at a women’s college.

“Nowhere else has the focus on female scientists that Saint Mary’s does,” Dvorak said. “It breaks up the stereotype that chemistry is a man’s field and takes away the stigma that many women face, which can kill their motivation to be a scientist.”

Junior and club historian Maggie Benjamin agrees.

“We also have such a community here,” Benjamin said. “You stay with the same community throughout your four years and it gets to the point that you know everyone. Underclasswomen aren’t afraid to ask questions, and it’s really nice to have upperclasswomen who understand what they’re going through. It’s harder to have that kind of interaction at a bigger school.”

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