Girl talk: GCHS student talks breaking barriers in STEM
Garden City High School senior Dessie DiMino shared her experiences with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) in a free community presentation on Tuesday, March 8 at the Garden City Library. The talk was part of a “Student to Student” STEM talk series sponsored by the non-profit Garden City Friends of STEM (GCFS) to help educate the public on the numerous career paths available in STEM fields. In January, GCHS alumni Brendan Quinn and Joseph Ienna kicked off the series with a presentation to Garden City students and parents on "College STEM Courses and Career Opportunities."
DiMino, who is a 2016 Intel semi-finalist, explained the importance of a STEM education for all students and discussed the vast range of careers open to them. At one point in the talk, held on International Women's Day, DiMino honed in on the need of more girls to explore careers in STEM, advising, "if you don't like one area, try something else. Don't close yourself off before you have tried everything.” She remained passionate on the topic of women in STEM, stressing to the audience the varied opportunities available. "You can't say you are not good at math, or that you don't like science,” she explained. “There are so many different activities and careers related to them."
Beyond advising girls to not be intimidated by the subject matter, DiMinio said they shouldn’t be afraid to admit when they don’t know something. "If you don't understand, speak up and ask, because you can be sure that other people in the room are wondering the same thing.” Sharing her experience as a founder of the “Girls Who Code” club in Garden City as an example, DiMino explained how quickly girls of all ages and skill levels were able to grasp the subject of coding, and by the end of their course, able to create a computer game on their own.
She also spent some time talking about her experiences competing on a FIRST Tech Challenge robotics team. In the 10th grade, eager to join a robotics team but unable to find one in Garden City, she joined the Icebreakers, an all-girl robotics team sponsored by the Girl Scouts of Nassau County. After winning several awards at the regional level, the team qualified for the world championship in St. Louis in April of 2014. Now president of the high school’s newly-formed Garden City Robotics Club, DiMino shared her club’s enthusiasm for working on the new Vex robots that the club recently received.
The audience remained engaged following her impressive presentation, asking DiMino numerous questions and staying to talk with her afterwards. Garden City resident Lisa Colletti, who attended the talk, commented afterwards, “Had Dessie not introduced herself as a GCHS senior, I would have simply assumed she was a promising young entrepreneur or rising star in a big tech firm. She was that impressive! Her knowledge and passion for all things STEM was apparent. This meeting was time well-spent and I look forward to attending similar discussions going forward. I will definitely bring my kids next time!”
The talk series continues on May 9 at 7:30 pm at the Garden City Library, where two GCHS seniors, Alicia Cristoforo and Lindsay Grippo, will discuss their research projects on detecting counterfeit pharmaceuticals as well as surveying students on STEM fields of study in college.