Ballard High School Presentation

On Tuesday, December 4th, IGNITE girls from Ballard High School gathered to hear the stories and ask questions of four amazing women in engineering and technology! The event was hosted by the wonderful, energetic and organized Julie Chapman, a Counselor at Ballard and a truly dedicated IGNITE advocate. Julie coordinated with teachers, found space in the school for the event, and recruited a great turnout of girls. Julie is very committed to the mission of IGNITE and works so hard to help girls achieve and believe in themselves- all while making it look effortless. Thank you, Julie!

We are incredibly grateful as well to Spanish Teacher Tricia Nielsen, who graciously allowed IGNITE (and our many pizza boxes and extra chairs!) the use of her room, as well as to Career Specialist Sue Higgins for her help making the event run so smoothly (including by providing emergency coffee!).

The panel volunteers were a diverse and inspiring group, who were so easy to relate to and have fun with. A huge thank you goes out to all of the women industry professionals that came to Ballard to meet with girls, answer questions and speak about their experiences. The volunteers spoke about persistence as a key ingredient to success, that hard work is imperative to a happy life, and that there is great joy in finding and pursuing something you love to do. Great messages, all! Thank you to Martine Stillman, a Mechanical Engineer from Synapse, Olasope Archer, a Network Process and Quality Manager at AT&T, Marta Smith, a Senior Staff Engineer in Test at Western Digital, and Kendra Powers, a System Security Engineer at Boeing. You inspire us and everyone around you- thanks!

The panel had a great rapport with the girls. They joked with them and spoke honestly about their experiences as women in male-dominate jobs such as Computer Science and Engineering. It was clear that the messages relayed by the panelists truly resonated with the girls. One volunteer spoke about a former boyfriend who was unsupportive of her career aspirations and who, therefore, “did not last much longer”. Many had similar stories of persisting in the face of those who told them they could not do it, or were not good enough. It was great to see the volunteers speak with the students so frankly about the ups and downs of their journeys to get where they are.

In addition to an incredible panel of women, there was a committed and inspiring group of girls at the event as well. The girls at Ballard High School have started an IGNITE club which meets bi-monthly to discuss issues related to their careers and aspirations in STEM fields. We are working with the club to support them in every way possible, and think this is a fabulous model for all IGNITE schools!

We were thrilled to spend the day at Ballard High School in a room full of inspiring professional and young women. Looking forward to more work to come!

Here are the comments from the girls’ evaluation sheets:

  • What I liked best was hearing people’s stories, it made it seem possible and not as hard as I thought.
  • It was cool how many different options are offered, even if you are bad at math.
  • I liked that I got simple answers to my questions from people who know what they’re talking about instead of the 10,000 opinions of people who don’t know what they’re talking about on the internet.
  • I liked learning about all the different kinds of jobs.
  • I thought it was interesting to hear more about possible forms of engineering.
  • I was really inspired to hear these women’s stories.
  • I liked hearing everybody’s stories, and learning professional’s challenges and what they to work hard in.
  • I love hearing many stories of success from other adults.
  • I liked the stories the engineers spoke about. It’s great to know that one doesn’t have to be a genius or go to MIT or have a 4.0 to become an engineer.
  • The most interesting thing today was the myth about math- I always had a doubt about doing STEM because math is not really one of my strong points.
  • I liked the affirmation that math will not be as big of an issue as I first believed.
  • I learned about how math is not extremely important and that there is a lot of careers waiting for people like me to apply.
  • I liked that these jobs are flexible and make a lot of money.
  • I found it interesting that you don’t have to be a math whiz.
  • I really loved hearing about what everyone does and how women success in the real world.
  • It was interesting to learn about the relative unimportance of math in some fields, and about mentors.
  • I liked hearing about all the different jobs and fields.
  • The stories about how they got into their careers were so interesting.
  • The best part was listening to the women engineer’s stories.
  • Everything each woman said was very inspiring. I’ve always wanted to work at Microsoft so it was very exciting to hear about.
  • I liked hearing about money and different careers.
  • I liked learning about the $$. Jk! I liked all the different speakers.
  • I liked the stories that were told. I also liked the hope that this gives.
  • It was interesting that there are only 9% women in technological fields.
  • I enjoyed learning that these are well paid jobs.
  • Everyone shared their professional and personal experiences. That was the best part.
  • I liked learning that you don’t have to be the best in math/best student to get into these careers (but you should still try….)
  • I liked learning there is good pay and you don’t need to be great at math.
  • Hearing actual engineers was inspiring.
  • All the speakers had different jobs, and I liked hearing about what they do.
  • It was good to know that community college is an option and get some more info about that.
  • I thought the “barn” story was wonderful.
  • The most interesting thing about today was how people thought they wouldn’t make it.

Thank you all for a great event, and for your dedication to IGNITE!


View the Ballard High School Chapter Page