Audrey Shawley ’18 (white top), a biochemistry major from San Francisco, Nina Doeff ’18 (red top), a mathematics and Spanish studies major from Evanston, Ill., and Hannah Hayes ’18 (black top), a biology major from Arizona, founded Boundless Brilliance, a nonprofit organization that encourages young girls to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) by showing them it can be done.
In 30-minute presentations to kindergarten to sixth-grade students, Boundless Brilliance’s teams of college students, all women currently attending Occidental, go into classrooms to create excitement about science. Through simple experiments (such as building a bridge between two chairs using only newspapers and tape—remember newspapers?) and a message couched in confidence, respect, and teamwork, their message to everyone—and young girls in particular—is simple: You are brilliant and you can be a scientist if you want to be.
In the fall semester, Boundless Brilliance gave more than 100 presentations at six different schools, reaching more than 2,500 students. This spring, the group hopes to double that number. In the near future, Boundless Brilliance aims to expand its program model to five Southern California colleges. “By the end of 2020, we hope to be able to reach more than 40,000 students each year,” says Shawley, the group’s executive director.
Portrait taken March 9, 2018 in Bioscience 311.
(Photo by Marc Campos, Occidental College Photographer)
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