STEM Comes Full Circle: Akilah Townsend Spotlight

EDI has been a proud sponsor of the Young Women's Leadership Charter School of Chicago (YWLCS) for many years. YWLCS is the only all-girls public school in Chicago, and its emphasis is on math, science, and technology. This year, EDI has been able to work with the school in a unique way through one of our employees, Akilah Townsend, a YWLCS graduate.

Growing up, Townsend had no interest at all in science, but that changed after she attended YWLCS. The classes she took both challenged and encouraged her to explore science, which led to her current position as an Environmental Scientist at EDI. 

On March 22nd, Townsend got the chance to give back to her high school by volunteering at the YWLCS science fair, where she judged the 11th and 12th graders' science projects.

She thoroughly enjoyed the experience and said, "The students presented their science projects to me and I was in awe of their poise and intelligence. After the science fair I was able to talk one on one with some of the juniors and seniors about how high school is going, their career goals, and new changes at YWLCS. Their faces when I told them I was a YWLCS alum was priceless."
 
Townsend was also invited by YWLCS to be on a discussion panel, "Featuring the Dynamic Voices of STEM,"
for their 9th Annual Girl Power Luncheon on April 6th. In addition to Townsend, the panel included:

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President and CEO of ComEd, Anne Pramaggiore; CEO of UI LABS, Carolyn Nowinski Collens; CEO of Pine Grove Holdings, LLC, Nelda J. Connors; and Senior Vice President and HCSC Chief Clinical Officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Dr. Opella Ernest. 
 
The day before the luncheon, Townsend was on Fox 32's Good Day Chicago and NBC 5 to talk about the YWLCS Girl Power Luncheon.
 
Townsend said that when she was originally asked to represent YWLCS and EDI on Good Day Chicago, she was a bit nervous, but mostly thrilled for the opportunity.
 
"Having never been interviewed on TV before, especially not live and one-on-one, I wasn't sure what to expect," she said. "But in preparing for the interview and thinking about what message I wanted to get out, I focused my attention on young girls who might happen to be watching the show and be able to look at me as living proof that doing a job outside of societal norms like gender norms, is completely possible. I wanted to be an example of perseverance and excelling against the odds. I'm thankful for the opportunity to communicate something so personal to me."

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