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Meet the Women of FEMME 4 STEM 2018 (Part 3)

This year, GiveTeens20® was fortunate to award three graduating high school seniors with the “2018 Femme 4 STEM Scholarship”. The recipients were presented with the check on Tuesday, June 18th at the GiveTeens20® office.

Femme 4 STEM Scholarship 2018 recipient, Emily C.

In this third part of the three-part blog series, we talk to our third and final winner of the Femme 4 STEM Scholarship, Emily C. A 17 years old, Mission San Jose High School graduate, Emily will be attending UC Davis with a major in Animal Science.

GT20: What made you choose STEM?
Emily: I chose this major because after exploring possible career pathways in computer science, medicine, and education, I found veterinary medicine to be the occupation for me. I have always loved STEM for as long as I can remember, because it allows us to achieve what was previously impossible. The modern world as we know it is built upon science.

GT20: What do you hope to do with this major?
E: I hope to enter veterinary school with this major and that it will provide a solid foundation in the sciences so that I pass the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) test.

GT20: What are you looking forward to in college?
E: I look forward to being in new and uncomfortable situations so that I can mature and change as a person. I am also excited about becoming independent and starting with a clean slate, so I can develop new habits and participate in different activities.

GT20: How was your college apps experience? Do you have any advice for future applicants?
E:  The application process can be overwhelming so I think the most valuable tip I can give is to start early. Ask teachers for recommendation letters early, months in advance. Look at the application portal the day it opens and formulate your own deadlines for each step of the process. Breaking your tasks apart into more detailed steps will help you get more done with less stress.

GT20: Do you have any advice for girls who are planning to pursue STEM or on the edge about it?
E: If you are a girl going into STEM, it is important to be confident. In a predominantly male field such as computer science, it can be intimidating to be surrounded by the other sex. In a predominantly female field such as veterinary medicine, it can be intimidating to try to excel in comparison to so many of your peers. Regardless of what field you want to enter, working as hard as you can and it will take you to where you need to be.

Meet the Women of FEMME 4 STEM 2018 (Part 2)

This year, GiveTeens20® was fortunate to award three graduating high school seniors with the 2018 Femme 4 STEM Scholarship. In this three-part blogpost, we interviewed the recipients so that you can get to know them better!

GT20 president and Executive Director, Kathy Laidlaw with our generous sponsors, Bonnie and Gary, presenting the check to Joan

Next up, Joan O., an 18 years old, Newark Memorial High School graduate who will be attending UC Davis in the fall with a major in Microbiology!

GT20: What made you choose STEM?
Joan: I took a ROP class that was science based. I really enjoyed the lab practice from it and so I chased after a career tailored to that.

GT20: What do you hope to do with this major?
J: The major that I am pursuing is not my actual end-game. I want to go into Pediatrics and help make kids feel better. I want to treat kids and make them happy.

GT20: What are you looking forward to in college?
J: I’m excited to expand my horizons and move out!

GT20: How was your college apps experience? Do you have any advice for future applicants?
J: The phone interview can be very nerve wracking. It was one of the first interviews that I’ve ever done so I was very nervous. I recommend that you just be prepared, be who you are and go over your personal statement. Be your true self!

GT20: Do you have any advice for girls who are planning to pursue STEM or on the edge about it?
J: Don’t get discouraged. Follow through the plan and don’t let anyone dictate you!

Meet the Women of FEMME 4 STEM 2018

This year, GiveTeens20® was fortunate to award three graduating high school seniors with the “2018 Femme 4 STEM Scholarship”. The recipients were presented with the check on Tuesday, June 18th at the GiveTeens20® office. We interviewed each recipient so that you can get to know them better! Before that, here is an introduction to the three young women and a fun question and answer session with one of the three winners!

GT20 president and Executive Director, Kathy Laidlaw with our generous sponsors, Bonnie and Gary, the winners Ayuri, Joan and Emily’s father

  • Ayuri K., 17 years old, Washington High School. Ayuri will be attending UC San Diego in the fall with a major in Pharmacological Chemistry
  • Joan O., 18 years old, Newark Memorial High School. Joan will be attending UC Davis in the fall with a major in Microbiology
  • (Not pictured) Emily C., 17 years old, Mission San Jose High School. Emily will be attending UC Davis with a major in Animal Science.

GT20: What made you choose STEM?
Ayuri: I was interested in chemistry since I took AP Chemistry from my junior year. My teacher recognized this and recommended that I pursue it further. From there, I took it more seriously and soon, a passion for science followed.

GT20: What do you hope to do with this major?
A: Pharmacological Chemistry is the study of how drugs interact with each other in the body. So, different pharmacy companies pay attention to this before producing and prescribing new medications. I am hoping to pursue a career in Pharmacalogical Chemistry and research for drugs for illnesses that are uncured.

GT20: What are you looking forward to in college?
A: I’m looking forward to to meeting new people and I cannot wait to get involved in extracurriculars and clubs.  

GT20: How was your college apps experience? Do you have any advice for future applicants?
A: It’s a very thorough process that has a lot of parts. When asking for recommendation letters, let your teachers know very much in advance. That way they can become familiar with it and know what to write. Your personal statement is also a key part as helps set you apart from the other applicants so pay more attention to it.

GT20: Do you have any advice for girls who are planning to pursue STEM or on the edge about it?
A: Understand your passion. We live in a society where people are pushed with the expectation and pressure to study in this field. If you have the drive to do it, it will be easier to trudge through it.


Going Against the Grain: Why Choosing a Non-STEM Major is Okay

Liliana Adler In the Bay Area and beyond, we are surrounded by STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) enthusiasts. A majority of the time, you can walk up to a random person and either they, or someone they know, has a career in STEM. STEM majors are vital to helping expand our world in technology and science. Without them, we would not have the iPhone or the umpteen social media apps we use daily, such as Facebook.

Do not get me wrong, I praise anyone who majors in the STEM area. It takes competitive, diligent and hardworking people to become successful STEM professionals. I myself could never do it but that is exactly why I struggled. I went to a high school with a senior class that was highly invested in becoming computer engineers, biology enthusiasts and business aficionados. As an education major, it was hard for me to admit it but I was so proud of myself for studying something unique. For years and even to this day, I took so much negative input from others who told me that I “wouldn’t be making enough”. I did not choose to study education for the $$, I did it because it was what I felt I was put on this Earth to do. What drove me to this career choice was knowing that I could possibly be teaching the next politician or the doctor who discovers the cure for cancer. I wanted to help foster the children into them, but many people overlook the fact that it takes teachers to make these STEM geniuses.

“It is important that we have professionals in careers

other than STEM that can help us do the simplest things!”

Intrigued? Let me talk about the importance of other majors! Imagine you just moved to a new city, into a fixer-upper type of house. Your pipes are busted, the air conditioning and heating are broken, and there is small hole in the roof of the master bedroom. Who do you call to fix these issues? A mathematician? A biology major? Or how about a professional, certified plumber or carpenter? It is important that we have professionals in other careers that can help us do the simplest things, like change a tire or build houses! Our next education reformer could be sitting in an education course lecture as we speak, or even the future artist who will end up as the next Picasso.

It doesn’t matter whether you are heading into college or are thinking about what you want to pursue as a career: NEVER be afraid to study what YOU want! It is your career, your life that you are living so pursue a career that makes you happy and doesn’t fill you with regret. You can’t be absolutely successful in the career you pursue unless you are doing what makes you happy, and what lights you up! For example, imagine if your doctor had no interest in helping people, or in biology, would you want them to be your doctor? Not me!

By all means, take in opinions of others and their suggestions of what they want to do, but never entertain demands. Study what makes you happy, and that in itself is the best success you can have!

Lily understands the pressure that comes along with being successful and choosing the right career path. However, with guidance from great teachers, friends and family, she was able to find the right one for her as a Child Development major. Lily enjoys hanging out with friends and family, watching Netflix and traveling on her free time. She is currently a Child Development major at Ohlone College, and hopes to earn her Ph.D. in Education.

How to Get Over Procrastination with Three Effective Tools

Julian Liaw Edward Young, an English poet in the 1700s once said, “procrastination is the thief of time”. Everyone has procrastinated in at least one point of their lives and it is not something we want to do, but it’s something that just happens. Think about this situation: It’s Monday night and there’s a big project due on Friday. What is the point of doing it early when you can just finish it the night before on Thursday? Sure, it may not be quality work, but unless you are specifically motivated to do it, you will not be determined to give it your 100%. How do you push procrastination away and optimize your free time to its full potential?

Procrastination is the epitome of high school and let’s admit it: all of us, at some point over the academic year, have put off work until the very end and managed to half-ass our way through an assignment the night before (or sometimes even the day of!). And although, at some point in our lives, we have wanted to be more proactive on tackling projects and assignments, we have been managing to get by with the idea that the due date is the do date. How do we change this toxic and often risky vicious cycle?

One word: Motivation


You need to really be motivated to learn and do you work on time in school. Some students, like me, just do not have the drive and push that motivation gives you to do all your work beforehand. That is why we brave procrastination and all the side effects that come, like sleep deprivation, inevitable stress and finally, a drastic reduction in the quality of work. This leads to a downward spiral in grades, which, at the end of the academic year, is not a pretty sight and has its own devastating effects. I would know because I am a serial procrastinator but, as my life goes on, I have been working on changing my habits and I am hoping to overcome procrastination with the following tools:

Look at the Big Picture

Some people make overcoming procrastination sound easy, “Oh you’ll be fine, just start your assignments earlier!”

Although my journey to minimalize procrastination has been slow but steady, I still find myself at the risk of getting sucked into it very regularly. For example, I have noticed that I start assignments on the date that they are assigned rather than waiting until the due date to do them. But as the week progresses, I spend less time on the assignment than I intended to. When this happens, I recognize the signs immediately and I simply remind myself that the hard work and effort I put in right now can only benefit me in the future. Why spend time and relax in high school when things are just going to be harder in college? Reminding myself of the big picture helps me panic just the right amount to finish my assignment earlier than the due date!

Get on a Set Schedule:

Something else that has been very beneficial to me in fighting procrastination is creating a calendar. Balancing school, work, an internship, friends, and just basic chores in general can be very tiring and overwhelming for students. Ever since I started using my calendar on my iPhone and Macbook, I have noticed an increase in organization and productivity. I now have a better understanding and clearer image of what I have to get done and when I have until to get it done. The calendar app has honestly been such a big factor in helping me overcome my procrastination because it feels good when I mark a chore as done!

Give Yourself Incentives:

At this point, no one but yourself can be your best motivational coach. You know your habits better than anyone and you know exactly where you are holding back. Give yourself milestones and fun incentives if you reach your milestone like extra tv time or 10 minutes more screen time if you finish two pages of your term paper in a single sitting. If you suffer from FOMO, ask your friend to keep track of you and call you in two hours to just check in. Keep reminding yourself that staying off social media for two consecutive hours doesn’t mean you have fallen off the face of the earth. What’s the worse thing that can happen if you stay off your device for a couple of hours? The truth is, nothing!

Read more about dealing with academic stress and failure on the GT20 blog!



In Conversation with 2017 GT20 Femme 4 STEM Award Winner, Tiffany Donaldson

Nearly a year after she won the GT20 Femme 4 STEM award, Tiffany Donaldson is finishing up her Freshman year at UCSB. GiveTeens20® caught up with her to find out what this Biology major has been up to in the past year!

GiveTeens20®: Hi Tiffany! How has your Freshman year at UC Santa Barbara been so far?
Tiffany: I am gradually getting used to doing things independently and managing my time productively. It was initially tricky, but I think I have got the hang of it. Classes are completely different from high school, especially Chemistry and Math! To top it all, the Quarter system is very fast-paced as we learn a new chapter each week and earlier in the year, I was shocked to find out that the first mid-term examinations were two weeks into the quarter!

“The Femme 4 STEM scholarship enabled me to come to UCSB as a Freshman!”

GT20: That’s what we call intense! Tell us how the GT20 Femme 4 STEM Scholarship has affected your life.
T: The Femme 4 STEM Scholarship helped me out significantly, especially in the initial part of the academic year. If I had not been granted this scholarship, I would have had to take out loans immediately since I didn’t get a full scholarship at UCSB, but received financial aid. The Femme 4 STEM scholarship enabled me to come to UCSB as a Freshman because, otherwise, I would have had to go to Community College. It paid for my Fall and Winter Quarter and gave us time to save more and pay for the Spring quarter all by ourselves, taking a huge financial burden off our shoulders. I have no loans so far for my first year and I am so thankful for it!

Tiffany (Second from Left) with her mom and the Board of Directors of GiveTeens20® during her check presentation

GT20: That’s great to know! This is a question we would like to ask to throw some light on the Scholarship application process. Applying for the Femme 4 STEM Scholarship could be considered difficult as it has a lot of pieces to it. What do you say to Senior girls who might think it is too tough an application process?
T: I agree that the application process might be hard, with good reason too! I mean, if it was easy, then everybody would be applying, and it would be harder to get! If you really need the scholarship and will do anything it takes to achieve your goals, I say pull up your sleeves and do it, you won’t regret it! Going through the whole process will make you stand out more and say a lot about your passion and your drive. If you really want it, nothing will stand in your way!

GT20: That’s an inspiring way to look at the process, Tiffany! What advice and encouragement do you have to give to High School Senior girls going into STEM education?
T: The biggest advice I will give them is have reasons! Have significant reasons that drive you every day to pursue a career in STEM (whether it be personal reasons, general ones or a mixture of both). The path to STEM is not easy and it is not an easy major to get into. Setting a purpose for pursuing such a demanding path, coupled with the confidence and perseverance you possess as a young woman will ultimately allow you to push through whatever challenges you face. This will undeniably arm girls in STEM with the chance to reach new heights of success in their chosen fields!

To find out more about the Femme 4 STEM Scholarship and check if you or your high school student qualifies, click here!

3 Keys to Making a Career Pivot

Making a pivot in your career can be incredibly rewarding yet also overwhelming and I’ve seen many people give up far too soon. I’ve successfully navigated two career pivots and can tell you that it’s absolutely worth the effort, patience, and persistence to go after what you want. I’d like to share three keys to help you get on track with a successful career pivot.

Know What You Want and What It Takes to Get There

A really important step is to do your research. Obtain as much information as you can about this next move that you want to make.

  • Do you have skills and experience that will transfer over to the new work that you’d like to do? If you have a resume, a resume writer can help you to translate these skills to appeal to potential employers. Do you need more schooling or a certification? Consider if there is additional training or experience that you may need in a new role.
  • Informational Interviews – Find people who are in the job you want and ask if you can interview them. At one point in my career I had considered making a switch to work in non-profit. I asked friends and former colleagues who they knew that I could interview. I ended up connecting with several interesting people! After these conversations, I decided that non-profit wasn’t the best next move for me in my career. The information I gathered was highly valuable and helped me to decide my next step.
  • Break the Process Down into Smaller Pieces – What are the next couple of steps that you need to take? Breaking it down will make the process feel more obtainable and less overwhelming.
  • Financial Considerations – Will the pivot to a different type of work require a pay cut? If so, are you prepared for the reduced income? Will you need to take out a loan for additional schooling?

The more prepared you are to make a pivot in your career, the smoother the transition will be.

Make Connections

  • Tell People What You Are Up To – The more people know about the change you want to make, the more they can help you along your path. Let people know what you are up to both in your casual conversations with friends and with anyone new that you meet. That new person you just met may be the very person who can help you with the transition.
  • Build Positive Relationships with Everyone You Meet – The first time I decided to make a pivot in my career, I was able to make a transition fairly quickly because of the great relationships I had already built with the people that ultimately helped to connect me.

Avoid Getting Stuck

  • Stay in Action and Don’t Give Up – Set a goal to make a transition within X number of months or years; this target may move but it will keep you moving forward. The transition may not happen as quickly as you’d like but it’s important to not give up. Keep moving toward what you want.

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”  – Vincent Van Gogh

  • Think Long-term – I have my coaching clients do what I call “Future Thinking” – Where will you be in 2, 3, 5 years if you invest the time now to make a transition? Keeping the bigger picture or future in mind will help you to stay motivated when the process feels slow now.
  • Ask for Help – Talk through your options with a friend or family member. I have also found that finding an accountability buddy (someone who will hold you accountable to your own goals) helps tremendously. Someone who will simply ask how things are coming along or what your next step is can be a huge motivator.
  • Stay Open – In the end, you may end up choosing a different path than you initially thought, however it was the process of getting curious and putting things into motion that got you where you landed so it’s all good!
  • Get Creative – Consider creative ways to make the pivot happen. For example, can you reduce your current work hours to try a new side gig or take on an internship to get the experience you need?

This process can be quick for some people and it can also take some planning. Either way, set yourself up for success by staying informed, using the resources available to you, and taking action. I’ve seen people move from Administrative or entry-level jobs into Technical, highly-paid jobs. The world is full of possibility—you can make it happen!

A Declaration of Change

Marwa Doost When you think of a physician, you imagine someone standing in the center of a hospital, maybe even the Emergency Room, with a commanding persona. In one second they’ll be shouting out  a code blue which often reflects a cardiac arrest, and often times they’ll be yelling for IV’s which the nervous residents scramble to get. And funny enough, I imagined myself to be like that too.

But I wasn’t, not truly. I was passionate about it, about the fact of saving lives. Even today, the mere concept of the emergency rooms raises goosebumps to my skin.  I mean, how could it not? The emergency room is a battlefield, a place full of determination to save the lives of those who wish to live. But sometimes, it just didn’t feel right.

Really, if you were to open my heart the way a cardiac surgeon does, you would find millions of words inscribed into the little pockets of the right and left atriums of my heart. If you go even deeper, you’ll find quotes flowing through the valves.

So I’m a writer.

And writers tell stories.

This one begins in the heaven or hell of every student; the counselor’s office. I had initially gone in with the intention of figuring out my Fall schedule at Ohlone College as a pre-med. Guess what? I walked out with a completely different perspective.

“So kid, what’s your major?”

“Biological Sciences.” I replied with a huge smile, excited and nervous because counselors were just so intimidating.

Ooh, ooooooh okay.” Really, I wasn’t sure what to say as I rambled to fill in the silence.

“Or well English, you know? I love writing and for Medical School you only need to do the pre-reqs so I’m also leaning towards an English major as well.” Clearly, this wasn’t the right thing to say because next thing I knew the counselor had slammed her pen down and glared at me.

“So what? You want to go to medical school with an English major? You want to be the kid who gets in because of the unique major but can’t graduate because she only knows English and not chem or bio? Let me put it this way, while your classmates who majored in chem and bio have years of foundations, you have nothing and will be starting from scratch. So yes, you’ll get into medical school with your major but will you graduate? No.”

I was shocked, to say the least.

I didn’t mind her being straightforward because I often found it refreshing instead of the wishy-washy tone so many counselors used nowadays. But I hadn’t expected the response I got either. It was true, I never considered how an English major would put me at a disadvantage compared to others. I had never also considered life after “getting into medical school.”  It was then, while I watched her compare the biological science majors between UC schools that I began to feel afraid.

Why? Because suddenly I wasn’t sitting in the counselor’s office, suddenly I wasn’t 18 and stressed with how I would get into UCLA or Stanford. Suddenly, I was my thirteen year old self who had just finished writing a novel in the middle of a packed house ready to move to CA in 2015.

I realized my dream back when I was a kid and it was simple.

“I want to be everything a writer stands for.”

I wanted to major or minor in English, not biology or chemistry or biochem or anything of that sort. It wasn’t me, it wasn’t who I was, and it isn’t who I want to be.

I blankly stared at the lists of science related classes I would need to take in fall and was filled with dread. I was afraid, because going from medical school to an English major was drastic. I was a girl who liked stability and organization, and I didn’t know if my English major would provide me that. But it filled my heart with passion and life, and at the moment, as risky as it was, I decided to play the “follow my heart game” and see where it got me.

I was simply determined to major in English while searching for my true purpose in today’s society.


The Art of Facing Failure and Trying Again Anyway

Shannon Rey Gibbs For some reason failure has become a very big deal for us. We try to avoid it at all costs and become fearful of trying something new or putting ourselves out there where others may judge us. I still experience this myself but I’ve learned to keep doing the things that scare me anyway. If you ask anyone who’s successful in creating a business, product, or following; they’ll tell you that they’ve failed many times along the way and continue to fail even now. It took James Dyson over 5,000 tries before perfecting his now famous vacuum. Wow! So I am hear to tell you a little something about failure that will help you better deal with it!

Every failure is an opportunity to learn

You can learn a lot from failure. You learn how to do it better next time. You understand what was missing from that first try at something. You learn the reason for your failure, which may pleasantly surprise you—perhaps it was because it wasn’t something you wanted to do anyway and your heart just wasn’t in it. I’m personally grateful for these kinds of failures!

Each time you fail, you’ll realize that you survived it and you have a chance to start again. You can become stronger by looking back, making note of what you learned, and moving forward with the benefit of more experience. Developing this kind of resiliency with help you to bounce back stronger each time.

This is a great reminder:  “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” – Henry Ford

Give yourself permission to have small failures along the way

When you are feeling really stuck or just can’t seem to move forward at all after a failure, break the process down into smaller steps. What’s the next one thing that you need to do? Start there. And then figure out the next step. And keep going.

It takes some of the pressure off when you realize that yes, there’s a chance you may fail, however it may only be with one small step out of ten steps. When something doesn’t turn out the way you hoped it would, it just becomes information about what the next step needs to be. After all, maybe you were off track and needed to be headed in a different direction to get you on the right path!

Don’t let the fear of failure hold you back

You can have so many great experiences when you decide to be afraid and do it anyway. Instead of asking “what if I fail?” how about asking “what if I don’t fail?” Imagine the possibilities that are ahead just because you took a leap of faith.

I like this quote from Virgin Group’s founder, Richard Branson, “do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.”

There’s always something to learn from failures and it’s the courage to continue moving forward that counts.

Want to read another interesting take on dealing with failure? Read this blog post. For more interesting blog posts on life, school and career, visit the official GT20 blog!

Shannon empowers professionals to discover what they truly want in their careers so they can do fulfilling work on their own terms. www.shannon-rey.com

A Go-To Guide to Stress-free Resume Writing

Kate Beck As I’ve been gearing up to apply for colleges, summer jobs, and scholarships I can’t help but notice that all them require a resume component. Until recently I thought that resumes were mainly to get a job, but they’re much more important; they provide a picture of you and your accomplishments to those wanting to learn more about you. A strong resume writing game will help you build an effective document that would give prospective colleges and employers a comprehensive idea about your involvement at school and in your community.

“A strong resume writing game will give prospective colleges and employers a comprehensive idea about your involvement at school and in your community.”

Personally, I felt like the whole resume writing process was confusing, so I asked a few of my classmates what their experiences has been. I got responses like “my mom helped me”, “I used an online template”, and “I really didn’t know where to start”. This has really been eye opening for me because its helped me realize that no one quite understands how to confront the elusive resume. So I did the research and here is what I’ve discovered about resume writing:

Resumes have 5 main components

1. Header: This is basic; what’s your name and contact information?

2. Objective/Experience Summary: What are you looking to gain by sending your resume?

3. Experience: Most of the time this would be where you add work experience, but since you may not have any yet it’s okay to leave this part out or add experience here like volunteering, babysitting, tutoring, etc. What I’ve found is you probably have more experience than you think! The main key here is to be as detailed as possible when outlining your involvement. Why should people give you a second glance?

4. Education: Where are you going to high school? Are you taking any higher level courses? Have you been accepted to a college already that you can mention?
5. Other, i.e. awards, club involvement: What makes you stand out? Do you have a position as a leader of a club? What have you done that shows initiative?

Further Resource

Though my tips can help get you started, these sites have really helped me get a more complete understanding of resumes:
Raw Resume: Raw Resume gives a good summary on all aspects from A-Z on writing a resume.
Resume Baking: Resume Baking is a free site that lets you build resumes. I liked it because it guided me through the whole process. Plus it has the ability to be edited in the future!

Hope these tips and suggestions on resume writing help you slay the elusive beast!

Want to know more about how we deal with writing essential stuff? Read this post about college apps essay, it will change how you approach any kind of writing!

Kate is a senior in high school, loves cats, and takes every moment outside of school work to create something new- whether it be a blog post or a baked good!