Girl Scouts experience college life

Alyssa DeGeorge

Sixty girl scouts from Northeast Ohio toured the campus, experienced a 3-D classroom presentation and attended Kent State’s football game Saturday as part of “Sneak-A-Peek-Day.”

The college preview day was hosted by Kent State’s Office of the President, the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the College of Arts and Sciences.

“We want to give [the girl scouts] a little bit of a preview of what college would be like at Kent State or just at college in general,” Laura Leff, professor of biological sciences, said.

This is the second year for this program, with 16 girl scouts participating last year, said Stacey Gardner-Buckshaw, program manager for the Girl Scouts of North East Ohio.

Alyssa Mathews, a junior at Mentor High School, said the day was helpful as a preview for college life.

“It kind of reinforced how hard it’s going to be and how different the classes are going to be,” she said. “It made it seem more real hearing it first hand.”

Mathews said she liked having the chance to talk to current Kent State students.

“I think you get a better feeling about something from students who are actually in it now,” she said.

Gardner-Buckshaw said the day offered a good opportunity for the girls to get outside their “girl scout element” by being exposed to a new community of young, educated people.

The program focused on science programs at the university with presentations of the majors offered at Kent State and tours of laboratories in the chemistry and biology buildings.

Professor Colleen Novak, who specializes in neuroscience, said she was excited to participate in the day because she believes reaching out to younger students is important.

“I remember when I was in school, we didn’t do any neuroscience,” she said. “Nothing. Zippo. So I just think it’s important, so that kids, if that’s what interests them, they can think about it early, look at all the different things that are possible out there and find something that’s interesting to them.”

Sandra Morgan, the director of outreach programs for the College of Arts and Sciences, said the college feels “very strongly about promoting the sciences, particularly to women.”

Leff said there is a concern about women’s representation in some fields of science.

“As a woman scientist, and as someone who thinks about making sure that the scientific community is representative of the world population, I think it’s really important to give everyone the chance to know what science is like so that they’re not intimidated by it so they might really consider going into it for their career,” she said.

Young women seem to lose interest in math and science at a young age, she said, but jobs in science fields can be the most promising for the future.

“There’s a huge opportunity for everyone in the sciences and it’s been identified time and time again as one of the leading areas for employment in the future,” Morgan said. “We know that science plays a part in everything, but we know that those individuals who pursue careers in science will be gainfully employed forever because the opportunities are only growing.”

Gardner-Buckshaw said encouraging the girls to go into these types of fields works with the themes they promote in the girl scout programs.

“Our girl scout mission is that we build girls of courage, confidence and character, so we want the girls to feel comfortable enough to try these majors that would lead to these high paying science careers, but also to have the confidence to enter a discipline where women are underrepresented and then be able to maintain a sense of professionalism,” she said.

Geralidine Nelson, assistant vice president of pipeline initiatives and diversity programming, said the preview day is not only about promoting the science programs.

“The excitement for me is that typically with the scouting program, they’re going to bring in ideas,” she said. “They’re going to bring dreams and they’re going to build dreams, so we have the STEM (Science, technology, engineering and math), but we also have an entrepreneur part.”

Leff said the college preview day helps the girls think about what they want to do with their future.

“They may not want to be scientists, they may go to a different college, but (we want to get them) really thinking now, as high school students, about their future careers,” she said. “(We want to let) them know that everything’s within reach for them, really empowering them to be able to make the decisions they want to make to go off to college.”

You can contact Alyssa DeGeorge at [email protected].