(TNS) -- In 2008, Jackie Lomax found herself at an impasse. Her daughter had expressed an interest in science and mathematics, but Lomax was unable to find opportunities for her daughter to explore these topics outside of the classroom.
“I was just a mother trying to make my daughter's dream come true,” Lomax said. “I wanted to take the cost of having a dream of a career in science and make it free to every girl.”
Lomax set out to create her own program for minority girls around Chicago to encourage exploration of these topics. The following year, Lomax founded Girls 4 Science. Since its inception, more than 500 young women have taken part in free programming that operates out of two locations within Chicago, Malcolm X College (1900 W. Jackson Blvd.) and Olive-Harvey College (10001 S. Woodlawn Ave.), as well as an additional location in Joliet.
Girls 4 Science hosts quarterly programs surrounding different topics over the course of six weeks. Any young woman aged 10 to 18 years old can register for the Saturday morning programming. The meetings revolve around lectures from STEM (science, tech, engineering and math) professionals and labs that give the girls hands-on experience with the topics they’re covering. Subjects covered in the past have included zoology, personal health and biology, mathematics and, this summer, medical science.
“Even if you’re not a STEM professional, volunteers are always needed for field trips or to support their learning and help them with labs,” Girls 4 Science's Carleigh Rinefierd said.
Since its creation, Girls 4 Science has seen a 100 percent college placement rate amongst its participants, with 90 percent of those young women entering STEM fields of study. Through its teaching programs and mentorship by volunteers and STEM professionals, Girls 4 Science allows young women in underserved communities the chance to feel more confident in their skills in scientific fields.
“My daughter (now a sophomore in college) knew exactly the path she needed to take once she graduated high school,” Lomax said. “I never knew a dinner table conversation would turn into something so important and meaningful.”
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