My parents instilled the importance of volunteering to me at an early age. For generations, helping others has been my family’s philosophy. Volunteering begins with caring. I have never thought of giving as an inconvenience but more of a privilege. The reward is certainly mine to share my time and mentorship because helping people enriches my life. It is true, time flies when you are having fun.
For the past six years, I have volunteered with the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF), educating and empowering Connecticut’s girls and women. CWEALF’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs ensure girls have the tools, knowledge and avenues to reach their goals in technological fields. In the past, STEM careers have been male-dominated. In many of my college engineering classes, it was not uncommon for me to be the only female in the class. Strides have been made; yet today, workplace demographics have not changed enough, and women are still underrepresented in the majority of non-traditional technological fields.
Professionals in STEM careers are changing the world. We make a living dreaming up creative, practical solutions; we work with other smart, inspiring people to invent, design, and build things that matter. By introducing girls and women to technological careers, we empower them to become self-sufficient and independent. With more women in these professions, we have equal opportunities to shape our world.
CWEALF is a leader in girls and STEM efforts through its Generating Girls Opportunities (G2O) program. The seventh grade Girls and STEM Expo, held at Mitchell College, in which I annually participate is a day-long, hands-on expo led by women in STEM careers. Volunteering allows me to encourage girls to identify their technology interests and introduce them to the many high quality career choices. Our goal is to create a day of fun and education to help ignite the passion of the next generation of women leaders.
Additionally, I have participated in CWEALF’s Women in Technology Connect programs. CWEALF is helping colleges to make gains in female student recruitment and retention in STEM fields. They have gathered teams of highly qualified women in technology careers to share their experiences and answer questions in panel discussion forums. At Three Rivers Community College, our audiences have included associate’s degree students and girls from Connecticut’s technical high schools. I have also been a panelist at the Connecticut Science Museum where we addressed middle school educators and administrators about the status of women in non-traditional careers.
Daily, I see my efforts bring hope, happiness, and a better quality of life to individuals, families, and the community at large. I know the joy I experience from giving will also enhance their lives – just as it has done for me. I sincerely value CWEALF’s goals and believe that we are making a positive and lasting difference in empowering girls, women and their families in their personal and professional lives. Will you please consider joining CWEALF accomplish even more this year?
Written by Elizabeth Waller Peterson, BSEE, BSCSE, MBA. Beth is a Senior Nuclear Engineer and a CWEALF G2O Volunteer.