Showcase to educate students about STEM careers
— 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
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.”