Girls Inc. “Eureka!” campers pose with Richland College speech communication faculty member Sherry Dean during the 2017 camp.

Richland College and Girls Inc. Empower and Prepare Young Women for College and S.T.E.M. Careers at ‘Eureka!’ Summer Camp

For the fifth year in a row, Richland College is partnering with Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold, to host the first half of a four-week summer camp for young women focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers. The camp begins June 4 is one portion of the Girls Inc. “Eureka!” model program.

This year’s camp is comprised of a new cohort of campers entering 8th grade who have committed to the “Eureka!” program through their senior year of high school.

The Girls Inc. “Eureka!” program exposes girls to opportunities and experiences where they can see themselves as important parts of the STEM workforce of the future. While at Richland College, the girls will participate in STEM and arts sessions, including robotics, programming, clay art, printmaking, dance and digital literacy.

“The focus of the camp is to expose the girls to engineering topics and lab experiences designed to encourage them to choose careers in STEM fields,” said Simona Farcasiu, Richland College electronics faculty member and lead faculty for the Richland College portion of the camp. “Through exposure to a group of female role models from both industry and Richland College, we hope these girls will feel inspired to break through barriers.”

During the digital literacy session, the campers will learn about online searches, online scams, cyberbullying, safe online talk, how to present oneself online and more, with the goal being to provide the girls with necessary tools to keep themselves safe and conduct themselves appropriately in an increasingly digital world.

Along with STEM career awareness, college awareness is another important part of “Eureka!”. Not only does the program initiate the campers’ exposure to STEM fields, but while at Richland College it gives them a feel for college life as they interact with college students, faculty and staff.

“This joint camp with Girls Inc. is an excellent way to empower young women to pursue careers in STEM fields, while also allowing us to share the wonderful opportunities Richland College has to offer and the value of a higher education,” said Shannon Cunningham, executive vice president of academic affairs and student success at Richland College.

“Richland College is an integral partner for the Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas ‘Eureka!’ program,” said Erin Chupka, vice president of program services for Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas. “During the two weeks Girls Inc. girls spend at the Richland campus, they have the opportunity to participate in STEM workshops with dedicated and engaging Richland faculty and are exposed to life on a college campus. Richland does an exceptional job with our young girls, and they leave excited about college and career opportunities in STEM. As each group of girls move through the five-year program, the ‘Girls Inc. Experience’ equips them to navigate gender, economic and social barriers and to grow into healthy, educated and independent women. We are grateful for the support of our incredible partners like Richland in helping to change the face of STEM and improve economic mobility for our girls and their families.”

Richland College’s portion of the camp is sponsored in part by a $15,000 grant from State Farm. Upon completing their two weeks of camp at Richland College, the girls will be hosted for one week each at the University of North Texas at Dallas and Cedar Valley College.

The girls participating in the “Eureka!” program will spend their first two summers being exposed to higher education and STEM careers at Richland College and other nearby colleges before spending their third summer in externships that will provide more focused hands-on learning in several STEM career areas. Year four will be about college and career preparation, during which campers will receive assistance on how to navigate the college application process, from studying for standardized tests to writing admissions essays and applying for financial aid. In their final summer in the program, taking place prior to the start of their senior year of high school, the young women will each be placed into a paid internship in a STEM industry in which they have expressed interest.

In conjunction with the summer camp component of “Eureka!”, all cohorts meet approximately once per month throughout the school year to participate in STEM-related field trips, workshops, career panels and more.

Richland College offers a variety of STEM-related programs, including both traditional two-year degree programs and workforce-ready certificates designed for immediate employment, through its School of Mathematics, Science and Health Professions and the School of Engineering and Technology. Richland College’s science building, Sabine Hall, features cutting-edge science labs and equipment and is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum-certified building for its minimal impact to the environment and eco-friendly design. Richland College also houses the Technology, Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing Center, a space fully equipped with up-to-date, industry-quality technology that allows engineering and manufacturing students to gain relevant, hands-on experience and career-focused training.

Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas serves a diverse population of 1,000 girls, ages 6 to 18, in the greater Dallas area. The organization focuses on the development of the whole girl through a combination of long-lasting mentoring relationships, a pro-girl environment and research-based programming that equips girls to lead fulfilling and productive lives, break the cycle of poverty and become role models in their communities.