Show­case to ed­u­cate stu­dents about STEM ca­reers

Cecil Whig - - BUSINESS - By JES­SICA IANNETTA

jian­netta@ce­cil­whig.com

— When Jaimi Yow­ell grad­u­ated from Per­ryville High School in 2008, STEM ed­u­ca­tion wasn’t as preva­lent in Ce­cil County as it is now.

In­stead, Yow­ell, now a chem­i­cal en­gi­neer and test of­fi­cer at the U.S. Army

ELK­TON

Aberdeen Test Cen­ter, got into the chem­i­cal engi­neer­ing field al­most by ac­ci­dent.

Both her par­ents are me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neers so Yow­ell knew she wanted to do some sort of engi­neer­ing. It wasn’t un­til a con­ver­sa­tion with her high school guid­ance coun­selor that she de­cided on chem­istry. She’d al­ways liked chem­istry but hadn’t ini­tially re­al­ized all the dif­fer­ent ways a chem­i­cal engi­neer­ing de­gree could be used.

“I said, ‘So now you’re telling me I can blow up things for a liv­ing? That’s kind of cool,’” she re­called with a laugh. “Get­ting into a STEM field, you can end up do­ing a lot cooler things than you went to school for.”

That’s a mes­sage Yow­ell hopes to pass on to cur­rent county stu­dents when she takes part in the STEM Ca­reers Show­case, which takes place at 6 p.m. Thurs­day at the Elk­ton Cen­tral Li­brary. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from area or­ga­ni­za­tions in­clud­ing Old Do­min­ion Elec­tric Co­op­er­a­tive, Or­bital/ATK, Mary­land Sci­ence Cen­ter and Union Hos­pi­tal will be on hand to talk about their own ca­reer paths and an­swer ques­tions from stu­dents and their fam­i­lies.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Ce­cil County School of Tech­nol­ogy and Ce­cil Col­lege will also be at the li­brary to give stu­dents ad­vice on what ed­u­ca­tional paths they might need to pur­sue to achieve their de­sired ca­reer, said Fra­zier Walker, com­mu­nity re­la­tions spe­cial­ist for Ce­cil County Pub­lic Li­braries.

The event will start with each rep­re­sen­ta­tive in­tro­duc­ing them­selves and an­swer­ing any im­me­di­ate ques­tions be­fore break­ing off into in­di­vid­ual sta­tions around the room for more de­tailed con­ver­sa­tions. The night will end with a raf­fle and a chance to ask any fi- nal ques­tions, Walker said.

One per­son stu­dents may have a lot of ques­tions for is Emily An­der­son, a Bel Air High School grad­u­ate who now works as an aquar­ist and marine bi­ol­o­gist at the Na­tional Aquar­ium in Bal­ti­more. An­der­son spends her days tak­ing care of the an­i­mals in the aquar­ium’s Black­tip Reef, which in­cludes feed­ing — and swim­ming — with sharks and stingrays.

It’s a bit of a dream job for An­der­son, who got in­ter­ested in marine bi­ol­ogy at an early age and be­came an ex­hibit guide at the Na­tional Aquar­ium dur­ing high school as part of a sum­mer pro­gram.

She worked her way up from there, vol­un­teer­ing and in­tern­ing in dif­fer­ent de­part­ments at the aquar­ium while at­tend­ing Tow­son Univer­sity. She earned an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree in bi­ol­ogy and an­i­mal be­hav­ior and later a master’s de­gree in en­vi­ron­men­tal sci­ence be­fore be­ing hired full-time at the aquar­ium about four years ago.

“I’ve had lots of peo­ple tell me they wanted to be a marine bi­ol­o­gist when they were a kid,” she said. “And it’s not like it’s a crazy job. It’s doable. I stayed lo­cal, went to Tow­son and just worked hard.”

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