“These young women really learn a lot: they learn about themselves, the majors and professions that interest them; they make connections with professors and employers, and they get to know more about Carlow.”
High school students participating in the three-day Summer Science Nation workshop.
For some high school students, summer is about lounging by the pool or toiling away at a summer job. But for a few bright, midsummer days, Carlow University invites young women from the Pittsburgh region and beyond to explore career options in health care, science, or environmental professions at the Carlow University Women of Spirit Institute® summer workshops.
Instituted in 2006, the Women of Spirit® workshops expose girls to potential careers, introducing them to professionals in various fields and fostering relationships with like-minded peers.
“These workshops are great opportunities for young women to really learn a lot: they learn about themselves, the majors and professions that interest them; they make connections with professors and employers, and they get to know more about Carlow,” says Laurie Petty, Carlow’s director of special programs and events. “The workshops also allow us to bring together the people and organizations throughout the region who will foster the next generation of scientists, caretakers, and thought-leaders.”
Carlow was the first Pittsburgh-area university to offer career camps to high school students, the oldest of which is Prepare to Care, now in its tenth year.
Prepare to Care is specifically designed for high school girls interested in becoming nurses, physicians, surgeons, or social workers, or who want to learn more about careers in health care. This year’s Prepare to Care students will participate in interactive lectures, hands-on science labs, and field trips to local hospitals (including an opportunity to observe an open-heart surgery).
In 2007, on the heels of the successful Prepare to Care, and recognizing the need to generate more interest among high school girls in science professions, Carlow University introduced its second workshop, Summer Science Nation.
Similar to Prepare to Care, Summer Science Nation acquaints girls with career opportunities in science through hands-on lab experiments, field trips to Pittsburgh’s research and industry facilities, meetings with scientists in the field, and other activities.
This July 14-16, Summer Science Nation participants will dig into labs and lectures led by Carlow professors in physics, molecular biology, and chemistry; they will participate in dissections; they will tour the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and The Energy Innovation Center; and meet with professional researchers, scientists, and educators.
Recognizing the popularity of sustainable and green careers in Pittsburgh and beyond, in 2009, Carlow University introduced its third workshop for high school girls, ECO Camp.
“Starting ECO Camp was a natural evolution for Carlow, as one of the critical concerns of the Sisters of Mercy is the Earth and the preservation of our environment,” says Petty.
ECO Camp is structured around three core themes: environment, energy, and sustainability. This year’s participants will attend workshops and lectures, conduct experiments, and tour local organizations dedicated to environmental sustainability—including a visit to one of the “greenest buildings on earth”.
But it’s not all academics all the time, says Petty. “Everyone has so much fun. And we love that; we hope that these students will build friendships so that, years later, they can draw on those connections in their professional, adult lives.”