Panel at Mountain View Middle School

On Monday, March 10, Sumner-Bonney Lake School District hosted an IGNITE panel at Mountain View Middle School. After an introduction discussing how few women are in STEM and why these careers are important opportunities, we met our inspiring panelists: 

  • Rachel Benda, Mechanical Engineer at BCE Engineers
  • Leslie Pedro, Software Engineer at Upbound
  • Savanna Nagorski, Land Use Planner/GIS Analyst at EMS Consulting Engineers

Each speaker opened with a short bio of themselves and their journey to a STEM career. They shared where they work and what they do there, as well as details about their companies and the impact they have on society. The students learned that there are many different jobs available in STEM and numerous ways to get there and be successful!

Next, we broke into three smaller groups, where the girls got a chance to talk individually with the panelists. Groups discussed the importance of soft skills in addition to technical skills girls can start exploring now, as well as different education and career pathways. Students were able to ask their own questions and really enjoyed being able to talk one-on-one with the speakers!

The biggest takeaways for the students were that there are SO MANY openings available in STEM careers and that these are great options for girls! We also talked about what classes they can take now and in high school to gain technical skills and explore their interests.

Thank you to IGNITE, and a special THANK YOU to Rachel Benda, Leslie Pedro, and Savanna Nagorski for sharing your stories and advice to inspire girls at Mountain View Middle School!

After attending this event:


of students are more interested in STEM

Here’s what the students thought of the event:

“The speakers were very pleasant, and I got good information on STEM fields. It helped to further my interest in STEM.” – 8th grade

“I enjoyed how the speakers explained the goods and bads of their jobs, education, and past.” – 8th grade

“I enjoyed going into smaller groups and learning about each career. I’m inspired by some of the programming careers.” – 8th grade

I liked the part when they talked about job flexibility (like sleeping in!), and high school classes to take.” – 8th grade

“When we got up to move around in groups and talk about their career, and being able to ask my own questions.” – 8th grade

“I liked learning about computer science.” – 8th grade

“I liked the variety of questions asked.” – 8th grade

All the different careers!” – 8th grade