Saint Mary’s hosts second annual STEM Students Weekend
Mary Mansfield | Monday, February 18, 2019
As acceptance letters begin trickling in, the decision as to what college to attend looms large for high school seniors. For girls who dream of pristine lab coats and are filled with excitement at the prospect of computing indefinite integrals, Saint Mary’s second annual STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Students Weekend provides an opportunity to experience campus firsthand and encounter the faculty, students and opportunities available to them at Saint Mary’s as STEM majors.
Senior Noreen Maloney, a chemistry and environmental earth science major in the Dual Degree Engineering Program, said that the purpose of this weekend is, “to go beyond a normal tour.”
“When we look at STEM students now, everyone wants to make sure that they’re making the right choice with their education,” Maloney said. “They want to know that they can be involved in different labs, research, small classes and get hands-on experience.”
These concerns are systematically addressed through tours and dinner with a social event to build a sense of community. Then, students participate in a STEM-intensive day with sessions that highlight current research at the College and provide an opportunity to meet faculty and chat with current students about their experiences, senior Heather DiLallo, a chemistry and chemical engineering major, said.
“We are trying to give accepted STEM students the opportunity to see what it’s like to actually be a STEM major here by having interactive activities and different sessions specific to each major to give them an idea of what their every day would look like, interacting with current students, being able to spend the night in the dorms with them and getting a better picture in that way,” DiLallo said. “The fact that a lot of faculty members are taking a lot of time out to come and spend time with them speaks volumes.”
For DiLallo, part of her ultimate decision to attend Saint Mary’s was her encounter with Toni Barstis, a professor of chemistry and head of the Dual Degree Engineering program at Saint Mary’s.
“Part of it was meeting with [Barstis] beforehand and getting that personal connection,” DiLallo said. “[Saint Mary’s] felt different and here was really where I was being drawn. Understand [the Saint Mary’s] community and [you will] understand all of the opportunities you can have in STEM at Saint Mary’s.”
Barstis said it is important for prospective students to be able to explore the opportunities and environment of the school they may attend.
“How do you know what you’re really investing in? I don’t think anything is better than feet on the ground, really seeing what it’s like. And I think it’s the most informed way to do things,” Barstis said. “Either you’re going to like this environment or you’re not. If you want the students to immerse, you’ve got to showcase who we are. That personal connection is critical and what we are trying to emphasize here.”
Ultimately, the goal of this weekend is to provide prospective students with the means to make an informed college decision with confidence and conviction, Maloney said.
“Be open to the experience,” she said. “Learn something about yourself. Learn something about Saint Mary’s.”