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SOP Students Share Love of Science at WISE Symposium

Five Amarillo SOP students recently displayed their passion for science and pharmacy at the Women in Science Endeavors (WISE) Symposium, an annual Amarillo Independent School District event designed to introduce middle-school age girls to career opportunities in various science-related fields.

The SOP was represented by two groups: P1 Mandy Whiteside teamed with graduate students Alejandra Fernandez and Naomi Wangler to present some of the scientific aspects of the profession and P2s Sarah Willis and Kaytlin Huseman introduced the students to pharmacy practice.

Whiteside, Wangler and Willis have been WISE participants since 2009. This was the second event for Fernandez and Huseman.

Whiteside said the WISE program is important because it sparks the girls’ interests in science at an early age and plays a key role in influencing their future endeavors into a science related field.

“I think it’s critical that these girls see women in the real world doing great things with math and science because it proves to them that they can do it too,” Whiteside said. “Seeing their eyes light up or the light bulb go on in their head when they understand or make the connection between something they have learned in class and the experiment we are performing is priceless.”

Wangler said the program teaches the girls that they can follow their passion for science and succeed.

“Young girls are so easily influenced by everything in pop culture,” Wangler said. “This is a chance to illuminate any doubt cast by social stigma or self-imposed limitation and really show these girls that intellectually demanding careers are achievable and rewarding. It is just as important for the more scientifically inclined women to impart our knowledge and enthusiasm for science.”

Fernandez enjoys interacting with the girls. She said hearing the girls describe what they want to do in the future is particularly rewarding “It’s important for them to realize that women can really make a difference in the sciences and that the pharmacy field comprises everything from making bubbles to making medicines,” Fernandez said.

Whiteside said she and her SOP colleagues work hard to explain the basic concepts of each experiment they perform so the girls will leave the event with a big-picture understanding that the influence of science is all around them.

“Naomi and Alejandra were awesome partners and we had a lot of fun working together,” Whiteside said. “Even when one of our experiments did not go as originally planned, we were able to make a learning experience out it for the girls.”