Women in Science and Technology program creator Elizabeth O'Day '06, center, works with Fontbonne Academy students Kristen Gately, left, and Kelliann Thomas.
Shaping the Scientific Mind
BC science and tech program for high school girls has successful debut
By Greg Frost
Braintree High School sophomore Liz Bellofatto wasn't sure what she wanted to do as a career a few weeks ago. But after taking part in a new initiative offered by Boston College, her mind is all but made up: She wants to be a scientist.
Bellofatto is one of almost 30 area high school girls who came to BC each Saturday in February as part of Women in Science and Technology (WST), an innovative program aimed at encouraging young women to embrace careers in science.
Conceived and organized by biochemistry major Elizabeth O'Day '06, WST put the high school students to work doing experiments in BC's labs, sent them out on field trips and brought in lecturers to showcase current opportunities for women in the field.
Bellofatto, who along with the other WST participants was honored Tuesday at an awards ceremony in the Yawkey Athletic Center, raved about her experience.
"It was great. It was so much fun to get hands-on experience with college labs," she said.
"Before this thing I had no idea what I was going to do [as a career], but now I'm pretty sure I'm going into science."
At the other end of the spectrum is Fontbonne Academy freshman and Holbrook resident Alicia Phillips, who has wanted to be a doctor or a scientist since she was seven years old. Like Bellofatto, Phillips said the highlight of the program was working in BC's labs with the assistance of about 20 female undergraduates.
"They let us try the experiments ourselves, and that was the best part," said Phillips, one of two high school freshmen who took part in WST.
Chemistry Labs Director Lynne O'Connell said O'Day and her fellow undergraduates deserve full credit for making the program run smoothly.
"It's all been run by the undergraduates, and that's been impressive," she said. "Liz O'Day is extremely organized and talented, and the commitment from her peers has been impressive also."
O'Connell said she and other faculty members have generally stood back and let the BC students take the lead this year, and she would like to see more of the same next year.
"We're hoping that someone who is a junior picks up the torch and continues it next year with our support. One hope is that the second time around will be even easier now that the groundwork has been laid," O'Connell said.