Investing in Science Futures
Some of today’s most interesting and high-paying jobs are in environmental and health sciences, but black and Latina girls from poor communities have little opportunity to explore these fields and almost no exposure to scientists who look like them.
|An 8th grader from New York Academy of Medicine’s G.I.R.L.S. science program talks to Trust donors about her project. Photo by Sean Sime|
The Trust is helping the New York Academy of Medicine
change this. G.I.R.L.S. (Getting into Real Life Science), a program that girls from Harlem enter in 7th grade and complete in their senior year, offers seminars on health topics; coordinates field trips to labs; and provides guidance on research projects and mentoring from minority women in the health and sciences. And the program works.
“I could have completely been diverted off track,” says Leslie Auquilla, a former participant, “but that is where G.I.R.L.S. came in and played a tremendous role in my life.” Leslie is now at SUNY Downstate College of Medicine and is an advisor to the program.
Since 2006, Trust grants totaling $510,000 have brought the program to younger girls, helped broaden its offerings, and involved more girls from additional Harlem schools. A recent $75,000
grant will help recruit more than 100 7th graders and help the older girls in the program get on track for college.
“G.I.R.L.S. promotes a ‘college-bound’ culture, supplementing all activities with information to help students think about college planning for careers in health and the sciences,” says Joanne De Simone Eichel, director of the program at the Academy. “The mentors talk about the decisions they made along their own educational and career paths, and share ideas about how to overcome barriers that can discourage young women from pursuing higher education.”
Every year, The Trust invites its donors and their guests to a reception at a different venue in the City. This year the event took place at the New York Academy of Medicine. Guests had the opportunity to talk with girls in the program and learn about their projects. Eighth-grader Vianey did research on how pregnant teenage girls can keep their unborn children healthy—a topic she chose, in part, to help her teenage cousin who is due in September. Crystina, also in 8th grade, did research on the correlation between poverty and child mortality.
Hundreds of Trust donors attended the reception, but one woman’s contribution to the evening stood out. Mildred Anna Williams, who died in 1939, created a fund in The Trust to help disadvantaged girls and young women. It has been through her generosity that The Trust has supported G.I.R.L.S. and made a difference in so many young lives.