By: Breana Ross, WBAL-TV 11 | Read it >
There’s a big blue mobile lab in the parking lot of the Odenton Public Library, where young women are studying biotechnology and dreaming of where it could take them.
Malikeya Chaudhary, a recent graduate from Towson University, is one of 60 young women in the Emerging Leaders in Biotechnology program, a free summer program run by Learning Undefeated, a nonprofit designed to increase racial and gender equity in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.
“I got really into it because I’m interested in medicine, and hopefully, that’s what I’ll be doing as a career,” said Malikeya Chaudhary.
“There are a lot of reasons that young women choose not to go into STEM programs,” said Janeè Pelletier, the executive vice president of communications for Learning Undefeated. “There are a lot of barriers to things like math anxiety, lack of female role models, and so this program is building access for those girls who feel like they’re confident in STEM and want to go into STEM careers.”
The Emerging Leaders program runs in Odenton, Gaithersburg and Baltimore City for young women ages 14-22 to learn about careers in biotechnology, meet women working in the field, and get hands-on lab experience.
“I definitely learned how to transform E. coli on a petri dish using ampicillin,” Anike Akinfolaran, a rising senior at Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Prince George’s County. “I also learned how to do gene editing using RNA and DNA.”
High school students pair up with college student mentors with a hope to build a support system for young women who dream of working in STEM.
“All the women in this program are from diverse sets of backgrounds, and when you are around all of these women, it’s really inspiring because all of us have gone through the same stuff, and we understand each other better,” said Chaudhary.
“The hope is that we are building this community that will help support young women as they go forward into college and help them come and take that first step into the workforce,” said Pelletier
The camp in Odenton and another in Gaithersburg run through Friday. The Baltimore camp at Morgan State University runs from Aug. 1-4.
All of the camps are full for this summer. For more information on how to sign up for next year’s camp, and for information on other free STEM programs this upcoming school year, visit the following website.