Virtual Women in STEM Panel with Oakland Bay Junior High School

Oakland Bay Junior High School IGNITE Students got the opportunity to learn more about the world of STEM during an IGNITE Program Virtual Panel Event featuring Women in STEM. The event, held on November 17, 2023, was led by Facilitator Wennahele Navarrete and Tech Hosts Fethiye Starmach and Rebekah Luce. The day’s highlight included the impressive lineup of IGNITE Panelists from leading tech companies. Samata Krishnamoorthy, Aircraft Certification Engineer at Beta Technologies; Sowmya Keshavaiah, Senior Data Analyst at Microsoft; KR Shubha, Principal PM Manager at Microsoft; and Diana Kumar, Sr. Director Engineering (ret.) at Salesforce, took the virtual stage to share their insights with IGNITE Students.

During the event, the Panelists delved into their experiences, providing valuable advice on choosing a career path and overcoming challenges. The discussion touched upon the importance of self-advocacy and celebrating personal achievements at every stage. The Panelists emphasized the need for individuals to recognize their remarkable qualities and encouraged everyone to fearlessly embrace new opportunities.

Questions posed by the students reflected the impact of the discussion, with students inquiring about career decision-making and about how the Panelists overcame personal struggles.

In conclusion, IGNITE Worldwide’s Women in STEM Virtual Panel was not simply an event; but an opportunity for the students present to identify with the Panelists and see the many possibilities for them in STEM.

A thank you goes out to the incredible Volunteers and dedicated Educator who made this event a resounding success! Thank you to our Facilitator, Wennahele Navarrete, and Tech Hosts Fethiye Starmach and Rebekah Luce. Additional thanks to our esteemed Panelists—Samata Krishnamoorthy, Sowmya Keshavaiah, KR Shubha, and Diana Kumar—your passion for sharing your experiences and insights left an indelible mark on the students. Your time, expertise, and commitment to inspiring the next generation of STEM enthusiasts are truly commendable. Special thanks to Educator Michaela McCoy, whose unwavering dedication played a pivotal role in bringing this enriching experience to Oakland Bay Junior High School students. Thank you all for making a difference!

After attending this event:


of students are interested in STEM

Take STEM Class


of students know more about STEM career choices and the benefits of working in a STEM field

Ask Teacher about Additional STEM Activities


of students feel more confident in pursuing STEM


of students gained perspective and feel more hopeful about the future

Here’s what the students thought of the event:

I feel more empowered to pursue STEM. Seeing all the people happy with their job was inspiring. I learned a lot! It is important to be confident in yourself. It is also important to feel comfortable in the job you are working at.” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student

This event inspired me to learn more about STEM and respect it.” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student

I liked hearing the answers to the questions for the panelists. Thanks for volunteering :)” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student

“This event inspired me by informing me about the importance of STEM. Thank you.” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student

It was very fun to learn about people’s jobs, and I found it really helpful. The panelists were very hardworking.” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student

“It inspired me to find out more about STEM. I liked hearing all their stories and the panelists’ answers to the questions. Thank you so much!” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student

Today’s event inspired me to try to look at and see normal objects as something more.” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student

It was really nice to hear our questions answered, some of which helped me understand STEM more. I would like to thank the volunteers for doing this. This was a great experience, and I hope to do it again.” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student

This event inspired me by showing me that it doesn’t matter who you are; you can still join STEM. I learned that many different people can join STEM.” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student

About IGNITE Program Panel Events:

Virtual or In-Person IGNITE Panels empower women in STEM careers to connect directly with students by sharing their academic and professional journeys. IGNITE Students are inspired by hearing stories they can relate to, and Q&A discussions help break down stereotypes that hold them back from engaging in STEM classes and careers.

About IGNITE Worldwide:

IGNITE Worldwide is a 501(c)3 nonprofit STEM education organization that aims to change gender and racial equity in STEM permanently and systematically. We work directly with teachers during the school day to provide programming that promotes gender equity and representation in STEM academics and careers. Through our award-winning program, IGNITE provides engaging, hands-on events that connect students with STEM professionals from industry leaders from around the world. Learn more at

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