When Dr. Violeta Garcia reached out to me for help in supporting a Latinitas in STEM event and with the request to connect her with some of the most successful Latina STEM professionals, I immediately thought of Vanessa Diaz (pictured in the fabulous yellow dress above). Vanessa is the Vice President of Market Insights (think data analytics) at Transamerica. With degrees in both computer science and finance, Vanessa is an inspiration and courageous champion for students. Here is a quote from Vanessa that was super powerful in response to girls being hesitant or not liking math, "I don't have to like math, I have to take advantage of math because it allows me to solve bigger problems."  

After the event a parent from Denver Public Schools sent this message to the organizers:

"I wanted to thank all of the people that put together the Latinitas opportunity yesterday.  My girls had the most amazing morning! When I saw them yesterday afternoon, they were both so excited about the morning that they told me in rapid fire detail everything that had happened at the same time, just talking over each other.  Latinitas also was what they were most excited about even though they ended up in the second row at Hillary Clinton's speech that afternoon. Latinitas created so much enthusiasm in both of them for STEM.  Both of them are determined that they will intern at a STEM business in high school." 

Not only did the event spark parental engagement and conversation, the direct feedback from the students was heartening too. When asked what thing you will change or improve after today, one student stated:  "The way I don't try in math" and another stated "If I want to achieve something, it has to come from within me". These are great takeaways that highlight the importance of creating relevance for student coursework and building confidence to achieve goals. 

Vanessa and Violeta are both Couragion role models featured in our student app who united for their collective passion of inspiring the underrepresented to pursue STEM. Couragion's goal is to increase both the number and diversity of students who enter STEM fields. Access to amazing role models are a key part of that process. Their dedication to the cause is unsurpassed - and we're proud to have them as part of the Couragion family. 

The 1-day event was sponsored by the Televisa Foundation, Denver Public Schools, and in partnership with Denver Startup Week. All participants have been invited to participate in a special panel discussion on Latinas in STEM during Denver Startup Week to discuss what they learned and gained from their time together. Put that on your calendar to attend if you are in Colorado.  

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