Virtual IGNITE Mini-Panel with TAF@Saghalie

On Friday, March 22, 2024, TAF@Saghalie hosted a virtual IGNITE Mini-Panel focusing on Women in STEM. The panel featured esteemed professionals: Fethiye Starmach, Implementation Engineer at Oracle, and Kierstin Matsuda, Cybersecurity Technical Program Manager at Microsoft. The virtual event was aided with the help of Tech Host Vivienne Gunadhi, a Bioengineer, and Facilitator Maya Lake, Senior Associate Software Engineer at Activision. The event aimed to inspire the 21 students from grades 9-12 with insights into diverse STEM career paths.

The virtual panel provided a platform for students to engage with the expert Panelists and gain a better look into the world of STEM. The students were able to find common ground in the Panelists’ journeys, from their educational backgrounds to even their current roles. The interactive session saw students pose thought-provoking questions, ranging from the influence of extracurricular activities such as art and world language classes on career paths to seeking advice on resume building and skill development.

One of the event’s highlights was witnessing students’ curiosity sparked by the panelists’ diverse backgrounds and their paths to success. The advice shared by the Panelists, particularly on incorporating hobbies into resumes and pursuing additional classes outside of one’s major, resonated with the students. The event underscored the importance of embracing one’s passions and seeking opportunities for personal and professional growth.

The event inspired students to explore the possibilities within STEM fields and hear firsthand from relatable role models. This experience will empower students to pursue their passions and chart their own paths to success in the dynamic world of STEM.

We express our gratitude to our esteemed Panelists, Fethiye Starmach and Kierstin Matsuda, for generously sharing their expertise and insights with the students. Special appreciation also goes to Tech Host Vivienne Gunadhi and Facilitator Maya Lake for ensuring an impactful event. Special thanks to Educator Elizabeth Benitez Martinez for her commitment to empowering students and facilitating learning experiences.

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:

It was inspiring seeing young women in STEM and hearing everyone’s story. I liked learning about the importance of tech in the modern world and about day-to-day life and how there are opportunities for young women in STEM. Maybe when I’m older I’ll get a career in sound technology.” – 10th Grade IGNITE Student

“This event shared a lot about STEM and helped me learn more about it.” – 9th Grade IGNITE Student

“Today’s event was inspiring because it helped me understand STEM more and ways to do things in STEM. Thank you guys so much for today it helped me understand and view STEM in a different perspective.” – 10th Grade IGNITE Student

This event gace me something to look forward to in the future, and STEM is something that seems interesting to do or learn more about in the future for a career.” – 9th Grade IGNITE Student

Today inspired me by teaching me about new STEM jobs I didn’t know about. My favorite thing I learned about was about their experience with STEM.” – 10th Grade IGNITE Student

“It inspired me to continue to work more towards my goals. They also inspire me to look more into different jobs in STEM. I learned that jobs will not always choose men. I also learned to not give up because people tell you you’re bad at something.” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student

I could relate with the speakers, especially when they said they were not good at STEM to begin with and didn’t know what to do. They inspired me to pursue a career in this path. I liked how the volunteer was realistic with not knowing what to start with in the beginning and how that career grew on them.” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student

I now know more about STEM, different careers, and how they work. Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today I really enjoyed it.” – 12th Grade IGNITE Student

This event showed me that I can proceed with engineering as a STEM career and that there are many ways to proceed in STEM.” – 10th Grade IGNITE Student

“Today showed me that sometimes you don’t plan the path you want to take. I liked the stories told by all the volunteers.” – 9th Grade IGNITE Student

“This event was good and I loved it. I learned about math and how doing art can be part of STEM.'” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student

It really made me feel like being different or new to a topic doesn’t mean I’ll fail at it. It also gave me a good idea of some things I could do between now and college to give myself better experiences, and I feel more confident in my ability to get a job in the field I want. My favorite thing was definitely hearing that employers like to see diversity because there are so many things I’m interested in so I’m glad it’d also be beneficial to take other classes.” – 10th Grade IGNITE Student

It made me want to pursue my dream job, too. Thanks volunteers it was very kind of you; I like the advice they gave and stuff.” – 10th Grade IGNITE Student

This event gave me something to look towards in the future. I enjoyed the talk about coding.” – 9th Grade IGNITE Student

This event inspired me because it showed the different opportunities instead of just engineering or just the medical field. I enjoyed how they described their own high school and college experiences. My favorite thing I learned was knowing more about the computer science stuff. I want to become someone who makes art for a living, but I believe that knowing more about STEM can impact my art and maybe even change my career path. Because of this event, I might minor in computer science because it stood out to me.” – 10th 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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