Tag Archives: summer camp

Richland College Works with Girls Inc. to Prepare Young Women for College and STEM Careers

For the sixth year in a row, Richland College partnered with Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold, to host part of a four-week summer camp for young women focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers. The girls were at Richland June 10-14.

“The girls are living proof that the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts,” said Simona Farcasiu, with the School of Engineering and Technology. “It takes a community to encourage girls to overcome challenges and pursue degrees and careers in STEM fields, and it was a great joy to watch the returning group of girls act as mentors to the rookies.”

This year, Richland College hosted two groups of girls – rookie eight graders and returning ninth graders. The returning group participated in biology/chemistry camp led by Libiya Shah and Becki Williams, where they learned about the water cycle and tested various water samples. The eighth graders participated in engineering/math camp, led by Simona Farcasiu and Praveena Dhayanithy, where they learned how math concepts are applied in engineering. Some applications included resistor color codes as applications of exponents and measuring sine waves as applications of trig.

In addition, both groups participated in a digital literacy camp led by Melinda Andrews, where they investigated their digital footprint and online safety. Also, the girls utilized their special reasoning skills when building lamps in art camp, led by Vicki Mayhan. Finally, both groups performed a beautiful dance routine symbolic of the Gestalt theory, “the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts,” led by Gina Sawyer.

Guests speakers during the camp included Martha Hogan, former executive dean for the School of Engineering and Technology, who spoke about the importance of education and addressed various pathways for achieving a degree and moving into a career in STEM. Sparsula Simmons, PMP, CSM manager at State Farm, led the girls into explorations of what it takes to be successful in a career and reminded the girls that they have the keys to success. Two Richland College police officers, Corporal Brooks and Officer Lopez, led a discussion with the girls about various issues. 

“Throughout the camp, the girls impressed us with their depth of thought, openness to new ideas and support for each other,” added Simona.

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. For more information, visit https://girlsincdallas.org

Thanks to everyone who helped make this event another success!  


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.


Richland College and Girls Inc. Prepare Middle and High School Girls for College and S.T.E.A.M. Careers at Annual Summer Camp
Campers standing in a group.

Girls Inc. campers pose in Sabine Hall on the Richland College campus. Photograph by Paul Knudsen.

For the third 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 portion of a four-week summer camp for girls in grades 8-12.

While the camp originally started for middle schoolers, it was expanded to allow girls the opportunity to return for up to five years to continue their educational journey and to encourage college and career awareness among young women.

The Girls Inc. “Eureka!” camp empowers campers to see themselves as an important part of the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) workforce of the future. Richland College is hosting the first week, June 13-17, which focuses on “Chemistry: Properties of Water” each morning and “Art: Developing Spatial Reasoning through Geometric Nets” each afternoon. After collecting water samples from the lakes, water fountains and laboratories at Richland College, the girls are employing chemistry techniques to reveal unique qualities of water. In the afternoons, the girls are investigating various geometric nets and their forms through lecture and experimentation. After developing their unique nets, the girls will attach them together to create a non-representational sculpture focusing on design form, space and light.

“We are delighted to partner again with Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas and State Farm in Girls Inc. “Eureka!” at Richland College,” said Sherry Dean, Ph.D., Richland College professor of speech communication. “Two cohorts of 8th and 9th grade girls will participate in a fun and challenging week of STEAM activities at Richland. The girls will use math, chemistry and biology concepts to learn about the unique properties of water; they will code and create personalized webpages; they will learn to manage wisely personal digital spaces; they will contribute to an art installation related to the sex trafficking of minors in Dallas; and they will participate in Zumba and hip hop dance classes. Each of these activities aligns with the mission of Girls Inc. of Dallas to develop smart, strong and bold young women preparing for successful futures.”

Upon completing their first week of camp at Richland College, the girls will go to the University of Texas at Dallas, followed by the University of North Texas at Dallas. The camp concludes at Cedar Valley College.

The camp is sponsored in part by SAP Labs, ExxonMobil, Lockheed Martin, Program for Excellence and a grant from State Farm that is specifically funding the first week of camp at Richland College.