Panel at Hazen High School


On December 19, 2018, Hazen High School’s Chapter of IGNITE hosted five IGNITE Panel Speakers. Students had the opportunity to hear panelists share their stories, success, challenges, and pathway to careers. A huge Hazen Highlander ‘Thank You’ goes out to the panelist for sharing their stories and answering questions from our students.

The speakers for the day were Marta Smith (Amazon), Pepsy Wirth (Microsoft), Harpreet Kaur (Microsoft), Valerie Olague (Microsoft), and Sarah Squire (Ping Identity).


The students’ major take-aways from the day include:

  • Even if you think you are not doing well now, keep working hard and make connections with people that can help balance out your deficits. Chances are you have something to offer them as well.
  • One student asked, “I like tech and music. How do I choose which one for my career pathway?” Panelist response, “Continue to develop your passions in both because there are a lot of jobs with crossovers like game development, sound engineering or musical software.”

  • Your background provides you and only you a unique perspective the deserves to be heard. This is currently really needed in a lot of STEM fields so don’t be afraid to be different.


  • 21st Century Soft Skills are very important! Many speakers suggested that students need to be able to to communicate effectively, collaborate as part of diverse teams, be creative/make mistakes, and think critically to solve problems.

The students are excited to go on our next field trip to Microsoft to continue to learn more about STEM subjects.

Thank you again, to the speakers who inspired the students at Hazen High School!

After attending this event:


of girls/non-binary students are more interested in STEM


of girls/non-binary students want to study harder to attend college and further their education

Here’s what the students had to say:


“I liked how everyone had their own stories about starting off kind of worried about their future and ended up with a job they really love. It’s inspired me to believe in myself to reach my goals.

–  9th grade


“I liked how everyone freely talked about their thoughts and opinions on the culture of a male-dominated career.”

–  11th grade


“The highlight of the event was how diverse and different work that these women do in the STEM field. This event inspired me to try to new things in STEM and that I am capable of doing it.”

–  9th grade


“I enjoyed hearing from several women who told us about a variety of experiences. Hearing about all the challenges these women overcame to get to where they are now inspired me to be confident that I can do what I set out to do and not take no for an answer.”

–  12th grade


“The ladies’ backstories are what inspired me, because it made me feel like anyone, no matter where you come from, could be successful.”

–  11th grade


These amazing women inspired me to not give on my dreams and to not take no for an answer.”

–  11th grade