Phillip and Sala Burton HS IGNITE Panel


We had an inspiring IGNITE panel discussion with 6 women in technology volunteers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, Fitbit, Atlassian, SFUSD, CodeCombat, and the Construction Industry Workforce Initiative with over 100 San Francisco Philip and Sala Burton High School girls. Each volunteer shared their career story: how they got to where they are today including obstacles they had to overcome, and what their day-to-day looks like in their current jobs.

The girls were able to ask questions and get a better understanding of various technology and engineering jobs that are available to them, and how women chose their college majors and career paths. They also had the opportunity to have a more informal one-on-one discussion while eating delicious vegan burgers from VeganBurg with the panelists. The girls loved the discussions and mentioned how inspired they were after the conversations.



Thank you to Jennie Lyons, Computer Science Specialist from SFUSD and Cathi  Rodgveller from IGNITE headquarters in Seattle for organizing multiple volunteers that were part of the panel event. Thank you to Jennie Lyons for funding the vegan burgers and sparkling waters for the event and sharing Computer Science opportunities with the girls.

Thank you to each of our IGNITE Volunteers, including Maica Gil (San Francisco International Women Entrepreneurs Forum), Soledad Antelada Toledano (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), Moriah Scoble (Atlassian), Robin Yang (CodeCombat), Monica Wilson (Construction Industry Workforce Initiative), Melissa Dodd (SFUSD Chief Technology Officer), and Adrienne Dreyfus (Fitbit). Each of these volunteers shared their stories with the girls, and it’s what makes this experience so relevant and valuable. The girls relate to the volunteers and see how similar they are to them: they went through a lot of things, did not have it easy, and had to work hard, but triumphed because they never gave up. It’s an amazing message and one that changes these girls’ lives forever. Thank you to everyone who shared their stories and answered questions with care and such thoughtfulness.


Thank you to Burton High School Tech Crew who helped setup the sound system and projector, the students from Academy of Media Arts who took pictures during the event. Thank you to Lauren Tang who helped organize tables with SF EdFund volunteer, Andrew Levin. Lauren also kept time during volunteer’s presentations and let teachers and administrators into the cafeteria who wanted to be a part of the magic. Thank you to Eugene Pearson and the AP Biology students who helped clean up at the end of the program. Thank you to Kayla Douglas for keeping the space safe for students to stay focused and attentive during the program.

We want to make the next event even better. Thankfully, girls gave us great feedback in this regard. This feedback included inviting more women of color on the panel, and to represent a bigger variety of STEM careers. Students also wanted more one-on-one time with the women, to have more hands on activities or games that allow us to experience these fields, explain in depth the opportunities available to girls, that volunteers should talk more about the benefits of being in a STEM career, and to have more IGNITE events. Our next event will be a field trip in January.

Here are the comments from the Student Evaluation surveys. The girls always say it best.

I liked their stories and how they were bold enough to be the only women in their field. Grade 12

This event was amazing! Some highlights were when Maica Gil said she was a Marine Biologist and then went into tech and when Monica Wilson talked about summer programs. This event inspired me to learn more about architecture.  Grade 11

I liked asking questions of the women because it made me feel closer to the women who came and quenched my curiosity. Grade 9

The highlights that I enjoyed from today’s event were how presenters talked to us about their story. This inspired me by making me more confident in what I want to do and persuaded me that if it doesn’t go as planned, its fine! There are many opportunities that I know more about now! Thank you! Grade 10

I enjoyed the part when the ladies tell us their stories. It inspired me because it let me know about some challenges and how they got through it. Grade 10

This event changed my perspective about different types of things I can learn. Grade 10

This event has inspired me to go to college then get into the science and engineering field. Grade 9

I enjoyed all the speakers’ back stories because it was just so different for everyone. I think that these women brought in jobs that I have never heard of before and that is a good thing as there are more jobs out there than meets the eye. Grade 11

I liked learning about the programs located here in the Bay Area. I’m very interested in the Construction Industry Workforce Initiative. Grade 9

I really enjoyed the panel where they shared their own personal stories to inspire young women. It is cool to hear the women’s own personal path to how they got to the STEM or computer field. I will definitely look into this field due to my interest in math and science. Grade 10

Their stories about their college experiences were inspiring. I also enjoyed how easy it sounds to get started. Grade 12


I enjoyed their stories because I can relate to different parts. I was inspired by the advice that was given. This event has inspired me to find internships and scholarship opportunities. Grade 10

I like the different women and their stories because it was nice hearing from the different backgrounds. Hearing about people who did not initially want to go into a STEM field were interesting. I also enjoyed the women who were really up beat and also gave different opportunities for us. Grade 12

I enjoyed everyone’s story. Their stories reminded me how important it is for women to step up. Grade 10

I think that the most inspiring moments of the event are when the speakers talk about their high school experience and tips. And hearing that encourages me to do better in school. Grade 9

I enjoyed hearing about how each women got to where they are today. Each of their experiences were unique and I enjoyed hearing that. Their stories were relatable. Grade 11

I enjoyed the stories of the speakers about their paths and that they didn’t know what career to pick. Grade 11

I love that we got to hear personal experiences from different women from different career types in tech. Grade 10

I liked learning about the other women’s stories. This inspired me to work harder and to achieve my dreams and goals. Grade 9

This event inspired me to improve my efforts in my education and taught me that it is good to not be afraid to speak up. Grade 9

I was inspired by these women choosing toe share their story on how they went and got their career. Also, it’s fun to hear their stories. Please do this again because I would definitely come again. Grade 10

I enjoyed how they all shared what they struggled with on their journey to their careers. Grade 10

I enjoyed learning about all the different courses. Come back next year, too. Grade 10img_6727-1

When the questions were exchanged with words of encouragement from the women, it inspired me to go after a career with a majority of men within the work field. Also, knowing the background stories of the women when they were young made me feel like I can relate to some of their trials they have overcome. Grade 10

I like how there is a variety of women with different ethnicities. Grade 12

These speakers gave us motivation to not give up and be who we want to be and to be a successful person. Grade 10

I enjoyed listening to their stories of how they ended up in their jobs and finding out that most of them didn’t actually plan on being in this field. This made me inspired and made me consider new options. Grade 11

I really liked the stories of each speaker and how they all came from where we are today. Sometimes you forget that. These women are examples of what we could be in the future, nullifying some of my fears of the future, but not all of it because its good to be prepared, weary of those falls you’ll take in life. I really liked Adrienne and Soledad’s jobs. They seem very interesting. Grade 11

The highlights of this event was the women’s stories and how they came to be. They gave many inspiring phrases as well, like “Fake it ‘til you make it” and “Don’t let others put you down.” Grade 11

The highlight of today’s event was the second person who talked because life is hard and it crazy and she got through it.  Grade 9

The women shared how they pursued their career and this made me less scared to do what I believe and that it’s okay if it doesn’t work out. Grade 12

All these women inspired me to try and expand my sights into a field of careers that I had never gave thought to. Grade 11

The highlights from today’s event was hearing the life journeys of all the ladies and how they became successful going into the science field. It inspired me to be confident and pursue my career. Grade 11

I enjoyed hearing about how each person chose their career and what a typical day for them looks like.  Grade 10

I enjoyed learning about the types of programs that I never knew existed. I want to join Mission Bit and join Construction Industry Workforce Initiative next year. Grade 9

I learned to take advantage of the opportunites in front of me. I was inspired by the presentation visuals. Grade 9

I enjoyed when the women answered our questions and gave us tips for pursuing careers in computer science and engineering. This event inspired me to pursue careers even if they scare me. Grade 10

It was an inspiring day for everyone! Thanks for all the stories!

-Amber Zertuche, IGNITE Advisor, Physics and Engineering Teacher, Burton High School, SFUSD