California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Women in STEM Club inspires and supports women in the STEM field

Jaylin Licup
The CLU Women in STEM recently hosted the Women in Medicine Panel on April 8 with Medical Doctor Layla Farrahi, Physician Assistant for Ventura Orthopedics and alumna from Cal Lutheran Khristina Shad and Department Administrator of the Specialty Advice Nurse Department at Kaiser Permanente Katharina Galang.

The Women in STEM club at California Lutheran University seeks to inspire and cultivate a community for all women regardless of their major.

Senior and President of Women in STEM club, Alina Tong said that the club first started last spring semester in 2023.

“They had started this club, asked for additional people to join the board and I really jumped at that opportunity because I wanted to be a part of a club that was going to support other women in STEM and create a really collaborative and supportive environment to help girls achieve their dreams within STEM fields,” Tong said.

Tong said she initially joined the club’s executive team as the head of networking and outreach, where she primarily organized all of the panels that semester which included panels featuring different female STEM professors, women in medicine panels, and a women in biotechnology panel.

“We try to provide different career opportunities because STEM is a pretty broad term and we wanted to make sure that whatever girls are interested in, they can see themselves reflected in those positions,” Tong said. “Especially with these panels, they get to learn a little bit more about what kinds of journeys these women have taken to get to where they are today, if there’s any challenges they’ve faced or overcome and any advice they have for girls who want to be able to follow in their footsteps.”

Women in STEM recently hosted the Women in Medicine Panel on April 8 with three medical professionals, including Cal Lutheran alumna. The panelists talked about their paths through the medical field and current careers.

Dr. Layla Farrahi is a Community Medicine Fellow at Kaiser Permanente who primarily works in family medicine, including primary care, diverse patient panels, and a wide scope of care, procedures, advocacy, and resident teaching. She emphasized the importance of making sure that getting into the medical field is something that the students want to pursue.

Physician Assistant for Ventura Orthopedics and Cal Lutheran alumna Khristina Shad was another panelist. She said she has been in her position for almost a year and a half, completing tasks such as patient visits, interpreting x-rays, returning patient calls, reviewing pre-operative labs, and much more.

Department Administrator of the Specialty Advice Nurse Department at Kaiser Permanente Katharina Galang said she was a registered nurse for 15 years before she obtained her current job. During the panel, Galang shared that even though she no longer directly looks after patients in her current role, she is still indirectly supporting them by continuing to elevate nursing practices for patients and work with the competencies and policymaking within the department.

Senior and Vice President of Women in STEM Club Alexis Jones said she works with Farrahi and invited her to join the panel and discussion.

“She graduated from med school in 2020, so she’s a full-on doctor now. She’s just brilliant and I feel like she embodies the next generation of doctors,” Jones said. “Girls will see themselves in her because she’s much younger and such a relatable person.”

Jones said that by joining Women in STEM, the club has helped her reaffirm her love for science. She said the club’s community provides a space on campus where women can come to talk about their day or even collaborate like in their new program within the club called Sisters in STEM.

She said the Sisters in STEM program is where upperclassmen members are paired with underclassmen members in the club who have similar majors or want to pursue similar careers in STEM. Jones said this is so they can build a support system and gain mentorship experience.

“Stopping and putting room in your schedule for something that fulfills you and fills you up. It’s just a little part of your day, that self-care, where you can be around people who are in the same major who understand the stress you might be going through in particular classes and exams,” Jones said. “It’s really worth it to take that time to just feel support in your community and make sure you’re not alone.”

Associate Professor of Biology Anita Stone said she has been the advisor for Women in STEM since this year.

“It’s been a real privilege for me to be an advisor to a club that’s so necessary and so important on campus. We have a lot of undergrad bio majors but the problem is that when you look at STEM and how the trajectory goes, it gets narrower,” Stone said. “When you look at female PhDs in STEM, it goes way down, and that’s particularly true for some fields like engineering, physics, and geology. I think it’s really important that they are not only promoting a safe space to come and get to know each other and share their trajectories and questions.”

Before becoming an advisor for the club, Stone said she was first exposed to the club as a panelist for one of the previous events last school year. The event featured a faculty panel discussion that included other Cal Lutheran professors of diverse STEM fields.

“It’s been great to participate in their events and see the variety of diversity of women that come. Also, as a woman of color in STEM, I think it’s really important for undergrad women STEM majors to be exposed to a diversity of role models. So it’s really important to me, that’s something real and dear to my heart,” Stone said.

Women in STEM meets bi-weekly in Nygreen 1 on Mondays at 5:30 p.m.

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