Women in STEM: innovators and leaders


Cassidy Yourg

Cassidy and Sophia stand in front of their project board at the CJGSS. There are many paths to success in STEM!

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Here, a few exemplary young women are interviewed on their STEM-related extracurriculars, passions, and goals. 

Sophia Levesque, a junior, has participated in science fairs “for over five years now.”  Initially, in the 6th grade, Sophia and her teammate Cassidy Yourg investigated how strong bubbles were, and how different substances make them stronger. They studied biodegradable bubbles and their capabilities to catch garbage.

More recently, they’ve been investigating filters for masks, especially after the “huge increase in forest fires.” Sophia says, “We wanted to create some affordable, easy to use, masks. We found out that seashells actually absorb carbon dioxide. So… we made a filter out of seashells and incorporated that into an N95 mask.” They ran a controlled experiment by introducing the mask to a fire in a mostly-closed box. “Our end result: seashells absorb carbon dioxide, which helps the filtration. It’s a fast and easy [way] to prevent lung issues.”

Lily Vu, a sophomore, participates in robotics, and is a key “member of 1425 Error Code Xero.” It is her “first year as the electrical subteam lead.” To Lily, “leadership is inspiring, supporting, and ensuring my team members have what they need to succeed.” She loves STEM because “STEM challenges the mind to grow, understand, and discover complex ideas.”

However, Lily points to the fact that “STEM-related fields are predominantly male, women are underrepresented,” and “it’s fortunate that Wilsonville High School offers a variety of science and mathematical classes students can take.” In addition, “there’s room for anyone who is interested in robotics. How much dedication and effort you put into robotics is how much you’ll get out of it. “

Lily aims to “major in the engineering field in hopes to inspire young women to learn about STEM. With a strong leadership role such as hers, and the hours she puts into building robots “at robotics,” she’s definitely inspiring her team members.

Rubi Martin, a sophomore, is the software subteam lead on the robotics team, and Rubi also participates in ISEF. “In robotics, I develop the code for our robot. In ISEF, I do a lot of individual research and idea building to develop a science project,” says Rubi. “I get help from our amazing ISEF coordinators and science teachers in order to bring the vision to life.” 

Participating in multiple STEM extracurriculars is “a lot of work, but also super rewarding.” Rubi plans to “pursue a career that involves environmental science or engineering.”

Sameera Yatham, a senior, is considering a career in biology. More specifically, she aspires to become a doctor. “The reason why I wanted to go into biology was because I found that a lot of the other STEM fields… have a really cut and close kind of ideology.” In many fields, once a question is solved, it is simply closed, but Biology has “so much of the unknown” and there are “so many solutions to” every question, “just waiting to be discovered.” She took AP Biology last year, and while she wasn’t sure what she was getting into, she “really enjoyed the class!”

If you find your passions in STEM, don’t worry about who else is pursuing a career in it, or what kind of crowd tends to venture there. If you ever have a question, don’t ever fret to ask! STEM is looking for a varied range of perspectives, so no matter what background or group you come from, know that STEM will have a spot for you.

You can get involved more deeply with STEM by taking AP science and math classes, joining a STEM-based club such as ISEF, Robotics, Math Club, etc. 

Ms. Kilpatrick says to everyone: “You can do it. I mean, you really can do whatever you want to do. I’m not saying that it will be easy, but … there are people out there who are willing to mentor.” Ms. Kilpatrick strongly supports young women venturing into the fields of STEM. “Look for those connections; look for role models. Get out there and go for it!”