‘I CAN’ fo­rum en­cour­ages young women to suc­ceed

Three more panel ses­sions to come

The Calvert Recorder - - Front Page - By AN­DREW CEPHAS acephas@somd­news.com

In an ef­fort to en­cour­age young women to take up ca­reers that are pri­mar­ily held by men, the Calvert County Com­mis­sion for Women hosted the first of four “I CAN” panel ses­sions Sept. 20 at the Calvert Li­brary Prince Fred­er­ick and in­vited women with math and sci­ence ca­reers to speak about the paths they took to ob­tain and suc­ceed in their ca­reers.

Calvert County Com­mis­sion for Women, in part­ner­ship with Calvert Li­brary, launched the “I CAN” se­ries last week, with the first ses­sion fo­cus­ing on sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, engi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics (STEM). Over the next seven months, three more fo­rums will be held fo­cus­ing on mil­i­tary and law en­force­ment, fi­nance and ac­count­ing and in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions and pol­i­tics.

Calvert Com­mis­sion for Women

mem­ber and deputy state’s at­tor­ney Kathryn Marsh wel­comed at­ten­dees to the fo­rum last week. She then in­tro­duced the evening’s speak­ers: phar­ma­cist Diane Bell, environmental su­per­vi­sor Brit­tney Dorsey, elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer Kather­ine Che­nier and cy­ber­se­cu­rity spe­cial­ist Sara Stan­dard.

Ad­dress­ing at­ten­dees first, Bell de­fined a phar­ma­cist as a sci­en­tist who is an ex­pert in med­i­ca­tion. She listed the dif­fer­ent kinds of phar­ma­cists, in­clud­ing com­mu­nity phar­ma­cist, clin­i­cal phar­ma­cist, con­sul­tant phar­ma­cist, academia and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try phar­ma­cist. Bell went on to de­tail the eight years of school she en­dured to be­come a phar­ma­cist be­fore de­scrib­ing ad­di­tional school paths some­one can take.

Bell told the young women in at­ten­dance to re­mem­ber the CAN acro­nym, which calls for them to be “Coura­geous and Com­mit­ted,” “Ap­ply them­selves and take Ac­tion” and “Never give up.” She also said fun must be added lib­er­ally with the other fac­tors to en­sure success.

Dorsey, environmental su­per­vi­sor at Calvert Cliffs Nu­clear Power Plant, spoke next, de­scrib­ing the work she does to en­sure the en­vi­ron­ment is pro­tected by watch­ing air emis­sions, wa­ter emis­sions and the soil. The youngest pan­elist, Dorsey grad­u­ated in 2010 with a bach­e­lor’s in bi­o­log­i­cal sci­ences, with as­pi­ra­tions to be a high school sci­ence teacher.

“In col­lege I got a job as a lab tech­ni­cian where I worked in a waste­water fa- cil­ity. Through­out that ex­pe­ri­ence, I re­ally learned I like lab­o­ra­tory work,” Dorsey said, chron­i­cling the var­i­ous paths her ca­reer has taken her since grad­u­at­ing, to in­clude work­ing for the BP oil in­dus­try com­pany. She re­ferred to Calvert Cliffs as a great fit for her skill set and per­son­al­ity.

Also em­ployed at the nu­clear plant, Che­nier ex­plained what it’s like to be an elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer and how broad of a term it is. She said an elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer could be do­ing any­thing from wiring up a mi­cro­phone to de­sign­ing a television or in­stalling lights. Math and tech­ni­cal writ­ing were re­ferred to as es­sen­tial skills for an elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer, as de­signs must be specif­i­cally com­mu­ni­cated.

Che­nier cur­rently man­ages the elec­tri­cal sys­tems de­part­ment at the Lusby nu­clear plant, where she over­sees ev­ery elec­tri­cal com­po­nent on site and mon­i­tors the elec­tric­ity to en­sure no com­po­nents will fail.

“The great thing about elec­tri­cal engi­neer­ing is stuff gets out­dated re­ally fast. How many of you have a Walk­man?” Che­nier asked, evok­ing laughs from the crowd. “Keep­ing up with elec­tri­cal com­po­nents and mak­ing sure we [are up­dated]. Things get ob­so­lete vary fast, so if we need to put in new elec­tri­cal com­po­nents for mon­i­tor­ing, we will. We try to stay ahead of items be­fore they fail.”

Re­fer­ring to cy­ber­se­cu­rity as her spe­cial­ity, Stan­dard talked about her pas­sion for num­bers, com­put­ers and puz­zles be­fore sub­se­quently dis­tribut­ing sev­eral brain-teas­ing puz­zles to the young women in at­ten­dance to dab­ble with.

“Cy­ber­se­cu­rity of­ten­times is like solv­ing a puz­zle be­cause you’re try­ing to fig­ure out how to make sure that some­body can’t pick the lock on your com­puter or other com­put­ers. I find it to be a lot of fun, and if you like work­ing with com­put­ers, you will en­joy it as well,” Stan­dard said, adding she grad­u­ated from the United States Naval Acad­emy in 1988.

Stan­dard de­scribed what it’s like to work for the United States De­part­ment of De­fense and how her role has changed over the years. Af­ter earn­ing her mas­ter’s in ap­plied math­e­mat­ics and com­puter sci­ence, Stan­dard was moved from a Navy sup­ply core of­fi­cer to an in­for­ma­tion pro­fes­sional, which fo­cuses on the Navy’s net­works and com­put­ers.

Af­ter teach­ing cy­ber­se­cu­rity at the Naval Acad­emy, Stan­dard learned she had a pas­sion for hack­ing and dif­fer­en­ti­ated be­tween crim­i­nal and eth­i­cal hack­ing. As the tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor for cy­ber­se­cu­rity and de­vel­op­men­tal tests and eval­u­a­tions, Stan­dard as­sists or­ga­ni­za­tions that are buy­ing ships, tanks or planes for the mil­i­tary in de­sign­ing the sys­tems with­out hack­able vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in­side.

She en­cour­aged kids who are in­ter­ested in hack­ing to sign up for the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency’s free hack­ing sum­mer camp, GenCy­ber.

Dur­ing the Q&A, youth in at­ten­dance asked a num­ber of ques­tions about what it takes to achieves var­i­ous ca­reers.

Calvert Com­mis­sion for Women mem­ber Joan Win­ship asked pan­elists how they feel about the short­age of women in STEM fields and how they are still able to make achieve­ments de­spite this.

An­swer­ing first, Stan­dard said she was in the ninth grad­u­at­ing class of women at the acad­emy and was one of 67 fe­male grad­u­ates. She said she “be­came a woman in a jock’s locker room and was ex­posed to things, that is not as bad now, for sure.” She said her mind was for­mu­lated to be log­i­cal and an­a­lyt­i­cal at a young age, help­ing her to be suc­cess­ful and out­per­form her male coun­ter­parts.

“I believe hav­ing the com­pe­tence and con­fi­dence is im­por­tant, and hav­ing that abil­ity to stand up for your­self,” she chimed in.

Al­though she usu­ally doesn’t no­tice it, Che­nier said she is usu­ally the only woman in the room at most of her work meet­ings. She ex­plained that she earned re­spect from her peers by fol­low­ing through and giv­ing ac­cu­rate an­swers to peo­ple’s ques­tions even if she had to get back to them.

“I’ve also learned, with sup­port from my hus­band, not to take things per­son­ally. It is just work,” Che­nier said, to which Stan­dard sec­onded. “You just have to take that feed­back, look in the mir­ror and say ‘I CAN.’”

Dorsey also noted the small per­cent­age of fe­male su­per­vi­sors at Calvert Cliffs. She said she used her sci­ence knowl­edge and skills to stay com­pet­i­tive, which nat­u­rally earned the re­spect of her male coun­ter­parts.

“I’m very ex­tro­verted and com­pet­i­tive. I have ba­si­cally suc­ceeded through speak­ing my mind and not back­ing off or let­ting down. I’m ba­si­cally just be­ing the best fe­male and the best per­son I can be to get to where I want to be,” Dorsey said.

While Bell ac­knowl­edged that a ma­jor­ity of phar­ma­cists are women in to­day’s time, she said the su­per­vi­sory po­si­tions are still pri­mar­ily male-dom­i­nated. She added that it was mostly males in the in­dus­try when she started, but said she never thought in those terms be­cause of the val­ues her fa­ther taught her.

“I never re­ally strug­gled with feel­ing in­ad­e­quate or un­equal. That’s how I ap­proach life. There’s noth­ing that’s off lim­its for me if I want to do it. If I put my mind to it, I will do it and ‘I CAN’ do it,” Bell said proudly.

The mil­i­tary and law en­force­ment “I CAN” ses­sion is sched­uled for Dec. 7.


With the help of phar­ma­cist Diane Bell, Mag­gie Green, sixth-grader at Calvert Mid­dle School, demon­strated what the “I CAN” acro­nym stands for at the first ses­sion of the “I CAN” fo­rum last week at the Calvert Li­brary.

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