MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Students got the chance to hear from local female leaders at the InventHer 2017 STEM conference.
The young women heard from MATA board member Roquita Coleman and Dr. Ruth Jones while they learned about STEM and how to create an innovative learning experience for diverse young girls in Memphis high schools.
There are a handful of STEM programs in the city for girls, but Tuesday's program was about bringing those organizations together in a collaboration to teach girls they can have exciting careers in information technology and engineering.
"I enjoyed it because it like opened my eyes," student Pshonna Hill said.
Opening the eyes of young girls and reshaping the traditions of technology was the mission of the inaugural InventHer Conference.
A diverse population of high schools girls in Memphis came together to learn from women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. Eight companies were represented at the conference hosted by ServiceMaster.
"Obstacles don't matter. Barriers don't matter. A lot of the ladies here, they've changed majors multiple times. Some have had children early on and some of them have been homeless," InventHer founder Sheleah Harris said.
Coleman, a guest speaker, grew up in the poorest zip code in Memphis. She is now changing the landscape of rail and transit industries.
"I'm sort of proof that you can kind of come from the bottom five percent and end up in the top half in those income opportunities," she said.
"It can definitely show you, and be a big inspiration, how many women are being able to tackle that obstacle and being able to become an engineer," student Jadelyne Sparks said.
The program director, Patrice Thomas, says her participation in a high school STEM program is what inspires her to give back.
"It's so important for me to help the women in STEM and these students and just pour into them and invest in them," she said.
"Any little girl that's going through something now, or will go through something, I say on the other side of every difficult moment in life is a positive outcome," Coleman said.