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Era – Growing with STEM

Era, TechGirls 2022, Kosovo

An environment where we could flourish, expand our ideas and collaborate with other changemakers, was created in the TechGirls program. This program allowed me to view the world from new perspectives. In addition, it gave me clearer lenses as I immersed myself in learning more about 35 different cultures in the world.

This program allowed me to explore different fields and ultimately find the career I want to pursue. I plan to study computer engineering and aim to incorporate neuroscience into it. With these two fields together, I hope to achieve concrete solutions to global problems. Engineering and programming serve as tools to enhance our daily lives. I understood this more profoundly in the course I took at Virginia Tech about “Problem-Solving with Python.” This course challenged us to think more critically and innovatively to tackle different daily problems. With Python, we could provide solutions that would be effective and easy. Engineering and neuroscience intersect at a crucial point for humans and our evolving life. This intersection allows us to create a bridge between the human brain and the computer and ultimately create sustainable solutions for everyone. Therefore, I plan to focus more on the combination of these two fields to help the lives of people with disabilities by creating solutions that are specific to their needs.

At TechGirls, the feeling of collaborating and helping each other was within all the time. There, I have learned how strong we are and that we will be stronger if we work together. After returning from the program, I was equipped with knowledge, skills, and ideas to start spreading this mindset to young girls interested in STEM. Thus, I initiated and founded the project “Growing With STEM”. Knowing that girls in middle schools have limited resources to learn more about fields in STEM, I wanted to change this experience. That is why Growing with STEM focuses on supporting young girls in their journey to pursue STEM fields. It aims to empower and equip girls in middle school with knowledge in STEM, particularly Front End Web Development, Python, and Computer Literacy. Through sessions held in two schools in Prishtina, around 40 girls participated. Now, they have started to open up their STEM clubs and GwS will continue to provide mentorship and support to keep their school clubs active, fruitful, and productive. This way the process of learning and growing with STEM will be continuously going on. Seeing their faces full of excitement and curiosity further fuels me to continue supporting and encouraging them in this journey. The feeling of making girls feel like they belong in STEM is powerful, and it is my goal to continue to spread this feeling. Since the project has had a good impact, I want to expand it to other schools in my country and try to eliminate the gap in opportunities for girls in rural and urban areas.

In my final speech while representing the region of Europe and Eurasia at the Capstone event on sharing our vision for the future, I mentioned: “At the tree branches, we put what, where we want to grow and the fruits we hope to give to the world. With everything we learned in TechGirls, we are ready to expand our branches.” (Click here to view the speech). Now I can see how “Growing with STEM” fulfills the “spirit” of TechGirls’ mission because this project is growing as a tree and expanding its branches. TechGirls played a crucial role in helping me become an effective STEM leader, expanding my knowledge, growing a network and friendships, and evolving as an active global citizen.

Era smiling in front of shrubs
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