Kathryn L. Hong is a recent graduate Queen’s University and at just 23 years old she founded the Girls SySTEM Mentorship Program in April of last year!
I want to helping to increase the visibility of female role models in certain STEM-related fields is definitely an issue that hits close to home and is near and dear to my heart. Since the age of 16, I’ve witnessed the inherent difficulties of being female immersed a male-dominated field, like cardiology. I truly believe that women and men share similar intellectual capabilities and are equally able to assume high-level positions and leadership roles. Where we differ, however, is in our confidence levels and in misconstrued beliefs that women are somehow, destined for certain career paths. I have personally witnessed the power of mentorship and the effect encouragement, guidance, and support from one individual can have on altering your own self-belief and motivation.
The Girls SySTEM Mentorship Program is a STEM-focused mentorship platform connecting students in grades 7-12 with leading professionals in their desired fields. We have a well-developed and proven framework for connecting mentees and mentors on the basis of field of interest, academic and personal goals, and overall compatibility. To complement hands-on mentorship, we hold monthly workshops that focus on providing interdisciplinary STEM programming such as coding and programming, health science outreach, and resume and career workshops. The purpose of these workshops is to really invigorate our mentees’ interests with STEM-based learning opportunities outside of their everyday curriculum and to create networking opportunities for personal and professional development. We aim to create welcoming and inclusive environments for learning so that our mentees are not afraid to try new things and experiment with new devices and technology. We also aim to encourage participation from a wide range of innovators with various ages, educational backgrounds, and ethnicities so we can cultivate a strong network of bright-minded females who can learn from and support one another.
Mentees are young students in grades 7-12 who are interested in pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields. Mentors are recognized professionals who have at least 1 year of work experience in their designated fields.
My overall goal is to empower young females with early experiential learning, hands-on mentorship, and workplace shadowing so that they can gain the confidence and resources to excel at every stage of their academic careers. Through mentorship, we hope to build a bigger, more diverse, talent pipeline for women, retain interest in STEM fields and develop unique skillset to remain competitive, foster long-term innovation, and succeed in a fast-pace economy.
I believe that teamwork is critical to the success of any organization. Building an organization from the ground up is a difficult feat – it requires careful planning in the initial stages with a clear vision of what the goals of the organization will be, while ensuring that these goals are realistic and in keeping with funding constraints. However, the most important part of executing a grassroot initiative is having a productive and passionate team who are there to support you in accomplishing each of these goals. I am extremely grateful to have a team of fellow females who share my same passion about the cause and in leveraging their passions, are able to work collectively to devise creative solutions for how we can deliver our programming to youth in different communities. Within the Girls SySTEM team, we have designated executive members who are responsible for each sector of our organization: marketing, community outreach, logistics, and sponsorship. In doing so, we are able to set ambitious, yet realistic goals for our organization and meet our monthly deadlines. In under a year, we have been able to garner nearly $10,000 in funding from multinational sponsors, build strong community partnerships with other STEM organizations, and deliver our unique programming and mentorship to dozens of mentors and mentees across Southeastern Ontario. None of this would have been possible without the support of the amazing Girls SySTEM team.
Our organization was founded in Kingston and we continue to run our main operations out of Kingston. Thanks to the generosity and support of the Kingston community, we are eager to continue the Girls SySTEM Program for years to come! Recently, we have expanded our programming to Toronto and are currently inviting mentees and mentors to apply. If you or anyone you know may be interested in applying, applications can be found on our website at www.girlsystemmentorship.com
We are always accepting mentee and mentor applications on our main website! We’re also looking for organizations in Kingston and the GTA to collaborate with in hosting our monthly workshops and our larger-scale community events. We love finding organizations who share our similar objectives of STEM promotion, female empowerment, curriculum development, and research and innovation. Information on how to get involved can be found on our website or by sending specific inquiries or suggestions to email@example.com
In the future, we hope to continue developing our programming delivery and mentorship structure. We are eager to explore local and national opportunities for expanding our network of mentors and mentees. We also hope to expand our executive board by recruiting diverse personnel from a wide array of talent pools. This will help to inform us on how we can better understand craft our program to the needs and demographics of our program participants and communities. Finally, we have a lot of exciting events in store for 2019 – both in Kingston and Toronto! These include innovative STEM workshops, social events, discussion panels and conferences, and a FREE STEM summer camp. To stay up-to-date with all of our Girls SySTEM events, subscribe to our monthly newsletter!
All events can be found on our website depending on whether you are based in Toronto or Kingston!
If you would like to get in touch with Kathryn or The Girls SySTEM Mentorship Program, contact info is listed below: