Afiniti Field Trip with Hardy Middle School

On February 8, 2024, IGNITE Students from Hardy Middle School embarked on an unforgettable IGNITE Field Trip to Afiniti’s DC Headquarters. The event brought together many enthusiastic Afiniti Volunteers, including Facilitators and Tour Guides Saba Abbas and Mary Kay Pennington-McGaughey, along with Activity Leaders Tong Zhang, Elif Kir, and Sanjana Kalani. Along with a tour of the Afiniti Offices and an activity, the students were treated to a panel discussion featuring Liuxia Wang, Vice President of AI Research and Development at Afiniti, Amina Eman Shorish, Lead Data Scientist for AT&T, and Yidi Zhang, Data Scientist for Verizon.

The day kicked off with a warm welcome from Afiniti’s Volunteers, setting the stage for a tour that allowed students to connect with the DC office’s atmosphere. Led by Amina, Elif, Sanjana, Yidi, and Tong, the students then delved into three fun activities: “Rock Paper Scissors,” “Quick Draw,” and “Teachable Machine.” These activities aimed to introduce core concepts of machine learning and AI, with students actively engaging and sharing their newfound knowledge.

As the activities concluded, Mary Kay then shared Afiniti’s mission and IGNITE’s vision. When students were asked what they thought was the purpose of this event, they gave a resounding response: “To inspire us!” 

Afterwards, the day led to the panel discussion, which further fueled inspiration. Amina recounted her journey in overcoming gender biases, while Yidi highlighted her passion for Mathematics, rooted in a STEM-focused family. Luixia emphasized the importance of genuine interest and passion, resonating with the students.

The panel discussion sparked a flood of questions from students, ranging from STEM subjects and extracurriculars to discovering one’s passion and preparing for job interviews. The engagement continued with insights from the Educators, including Katherine Ogueri, Mr. Estifanos, and Lisa Peters-Bryant

The event’s success was made possible by dedicated Volunteers, including Mary Kay Pennington-Mcgaughey, Saba Abbas, Amina Eman Shorish, Elif Kir, Sanjana Kalani, Yidi Zhang, Tong Zhang, and Liuxia Wang. Additional thanks to Educators Katherine Ogueri, Mr. Estifanos, and Lisa Peters-Bryant for doing so much to encourage their students. Special thanks to Lindsay Hua for organizing this event and making it possible, and also to Amber Terry, Middle School CTE Coordinator for DC Public Schools, for her enthusiasm in helping bring IGNITE into the DC area to reach so many new students. We look forward to continuing our collaboration and partnership with DCSP and Afiniti!

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:

“This event inspired me because I was able to learn a lot more about how some of the women overcame challenges, like being the only girl in a class of 40-42 boys. My favorite thing I learned was how to figure out what I was interested in. I figured out how to find what I was passionate about and what I wanted to pursue.” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student

It inspired me to look into STEM as a job. My favorite thing today was the activities.” – 6th Grade IGNITE Student

I feel like this event inspired everyone, and I now know what my path is. It was nice just listening and hearing stories and jobs.” – 6th Grade IGNITE Student

“This event today inspired me because I learned about different jobs and careers. It has taught me that I have opportunities in the STEM field. My favorite part was learning about the panel and their stories. This was because I learned more about the people who are working in the STEM field, which is what I want to do.” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student

This event inspired me to learn more about STEM and technology. It also inspired me to be more curious about STEM.” – 6th Grade IGNITE Student

The conversations that we had about our futures and to follow our dreams was really inspiring, and the AI games were fun too.” – 7th Grade IGNITE Student

“I liked trying the AI games. I also liked when the leaders on the panel shared their stories.” – 6th Grade IGNITE Student

“I like how the people shared their stories on how they got to where they are. I liked learning all the different job opportunities at Afiniti.” – 6th Grade IGNITE Student

“Today’s event inspired me because it made me think more about my career, and it helped me to feel confident about my future. My favorite thing I learned today was that every job interview is a practice for the next.” – 6th Grade IGNITE Student

“This event was very enriching and interesting. Although I was already interested in the STEM and science fields, the event inspired me to do more research and educate myself. I found the statistics about women in different career fields very informative.” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student

“Today’s event inspired me because everyone who spoke was so confident and told me about their story! It motivated me to pursue STEM careers and follow my passions. I thought the statistics about how many women worked in STEM were interesting. I think that in the future, more women should work in STEM to defeat stereotypes!” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student

“I’ve always been drawn to STEM since introduced to it in 6th grade. My interest today has only grown, and I now feel more interested and confident in pursuing it as a future career. My favorite thing that I’ve learned is the jobs here related to STEM. I feel like there are more windows of opportunity for me now.” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student

Today inspired me because, before this, I really didn’t think that doing AI stuff was fun. I thought it would be too hard, but it’s not.” – 6th Grade IGNITE Student

“Today, I got advice on choosing your career. I feel more confident about finding what I want to be. I learned about all the awesome apps! I loved meeting all the professionals.” – 6th Grade IGNITE Student

I was inspired by the amazing women who had accomplished so much and overcome stereotypes and challenges. I am interested in environmental science along with human rights, and this helped me be confident in my profession. My favorite thing I learned today was about how AI can predict people’s decisions using statistics they can create very quickly. I was also really inspired by the women in STEM and how stereotypes can be broken.” – 8th Grade IGNITE Student

Today’s event inspired me because they explained how there are many different jobs that women haven’t been able to do because of stereotypes. After hearing this, it made me feel more confident about what to do in my life. I think my favorite thing I learned today is about how we could trick the AI games so we could win it.” – 6th Grade IGNITE Student

This inspired me because I now feel more confident to do things that I dreamed of. My favorite thing is the job opportunities that people had.” – 6th Grade IGNITE Student

“Today was inspirational. I liked how they all had different perspectives and experiences, and it gave me a vision of the real world and how they fought through all those obstacles bringing them down. I liked learning about the jobs at Afiniti. I had no idea what a software data scientist was before this.” – 7th Grade IGNITE Student

“Today’s event inspired me because having all the women talk to us helped us understand how we should be confident in what we want to do in life. Today also inspired me because hearing all of the women’s stories inspires me, so if they can pursue their dreams, I can too. My favorite thing about today’s event is that I got to learn the different women’s journeys.” – 6th Grade IGNITE Student

“It inspired me to be my true self. I learned that women can be who we want to be.” – 6th Grade IGNITE Student

Today’s event showed me that you should pursue what makes you happy, and never listen to stereotypes. Lots of women out there don’t realize how they shouldn’t limit themselves, and I feel like after going on this field trip, if I was one of them, it would inspire me. My favorite thing I learned today is that companies are welcomed and told to be open with hiring women.” – 6th Grade IGNITE Student

“Today’s event inspired me to be very confident about what I want to be. Also, to not listen to anyone if they try to put you down and just continue and work hard to get what you want in life. My favorite thing that I learned today was about how many jobs there are in engineering, and the games we played, I learned a lot in those games.” – 6th Grade IGNITE Student

Today made me more open to the career I want. It also made me feel like I can be a game developer.” – 6th Grade IGNITE Student

Today’s event inspired me because I saw lots of women be able to pursue a career in STEM. My big takeaways were the AI games and how smart they are.” – 7th Grade IGNITE Student

It inspired me to see more people of my gender working here. My big takeaway was that there needs to be more women of color working in tech.” – 7th Grade IGNITE Student

I learned some things about STEM I didn’t know. My big takeaway is that there aren’t enough women in STEM.” – 7th Grade IGNITE Student

“It inspired me to chase my dreams even if it is not a typical job for women. I learned about amazing women and their past,and also how exciting STEM is.” – 6th Grade IGNITE Student

About Afiniti:

Afiniti uses patented artificial intelligence technology to pair participants in customer interactions based on how well they are likely to interact. Its technology is used globally in the healthcare, telecommunications, travel, hospitality, insurance, and banking industries, and across multiple customer experience channels. To learn more, visit

About IGNITE Program Field Trip Events:

IGNITE Field Trips offer a memorable, behind-the-scenes look at STEM in action and the wide range of career opportunities at the host company. Company employees interact directly with the students through an office tour, hands-on STEM activities, and IGNITE Panel and Q&A discussion.

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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