Over winter break, nine William Smith students traveled to Washington, D.C., to explore careers in public policy and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) policy through two seminars hosted by the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN).
Each year, the national organization hosts female students from colleges and universities across the country, allowing them to experience firsthand how public policy is shaped and implemented. Since 2010, more than 100 William Smith students have attended PLEN seminars. William Smith Associate Dean Lisa Kaenzig has been on the PLEN board since 2011 and was elected Chair of the Board of Directors in June 2015.
Cindy Famutimi ’17, Jules Picuri ‘19, Katie Pinkes ’17 and Lauren Pomerantz ’18 attended the “Women in STEM Policy” seminar from Jan. 4 through 8, which provided them an opportunity to “discuss front page issues” with women working in science, health, and technology. The students also networked with women working at the FBI, National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation in seminars covering topics ranging from “Data and Politics,” to STEM education, and engineering on Capitol Hill.
For Pomerantz, who says the conference was “extremely beneficial,” the opportunity to meet with successful women in STEM careers gave her “newfound knowledge” of the variety of careers in the fields.
“After meeting with and hearing from several female doctors and researchers in global health, I now know that I can not only be a practicing physician or surgeon but also be involved in global health policy, which was what I initially wanted to do, but did not think possible until this conference,” she says.
From Jan. 12 through 14, Abigail Janik ’18, Molly Bell ’17, Viola Doles ’17, Natasha Patel ’18 and Joy Gitter ’16 attended the “Women in Public Policy Seminar.” They met female leaders from Capitol Hill, the executive branch, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private corporations. Female leaders from organizations such as the National Security Council, the National Education Association, and the United Postal Service led a series of seminars that covered policy issues, exposed students to a range of professional opportunities, and gave students new insight into the required skills for many positions.
“As I make my way into the historically male dominated world of public policy, my experiences from the PLEN ‘Women in Public Policy’ seminar are guaranteed to shape the way I brand myself in future careers,” says Janik. “PLEN taught me to have the confidence to define my own success and then use my success to empower others.”
Patel calls the conference “one of the most empowering experiences” of her college career, noting that she’s already begun using the networking skills she learned and also gained the confidence to “brand” herself while exploring career options.
Support for attendance at the conferences was provided by the William Smith Dean’s Office.