AV junior Jacqueline Lee empowers Tri-Valley Girls in STEM


Jacqueline Lee

Working at the Oakland Zoo inspired AV junior Jacqueline Lee to bring together working STEM professionals with aspiring students.

Mandy Wong, Senior Editor

While quarantine may have shut down all in-person activities, Jacqueline Lee, a junior at Amador Valley, took this time to organize a live panel of female STEM professionals in order to encourage girls to choose a career in STEM. 

Being a member of Girl Scouts since age five, Lee has worked her way toward the highest award in the program, the Gold Award. It is earned by tackling a community issue through a project, and for Lee, that community issue turned out to be the imbalance between female and male representation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

“According to the Junior Achievement in 2016, the breakdown of STEM graduates in 2016 was 37% female and 63% male. Girls may develop an interest in STEM when they are young, but due to a lack of exposure to the careers or career-readiness programs, they begin to lose interest in high school,” said Jacqueline Lee (‘22). 

Lee partnered with the GetSet program, which provides girls with exposure to different careers in the STEM field through events like shadowing days, where members can see firsthand what a professional’s day is like, or dinner with scientists, where questions can be freely asked and answered.

“I think that it is important to encourage girls to continue their love for STEM by introducing them to role models and allowing the exploration of a variety of science related careers,” said Lee (’22). “For my project, I wanted to do the same for the students in my community.”

Lee volunteers at the Oakland Zoo’s Teen Wild Guide program, and her close work with professionals at the zoo gave her the perfect “role models” for her idea.

“I wanted to introduce the different jobs related to working with animals. My initial plan before COVID was a field trip to Oakland Zoo, but unfortunately I had to come up with a new plan that was virtual. I was able to bring together a group of seven women in animal science, five from the Oakland Zoo, to speak at a panelist event,” said Lee (’22).

On December 9th, Lee hosted the virtual event through WebEx.  Ranging from veterinarians to an ocean scientist, STEM professionals spoke live to Tri-Valley students.

One of the perks of being a teen guide is being able to constantly interact with the animals. (Jacqueline Lee)

“As the host of the panel, I asked about their jobs and the animal career field. The topics discussed included what they enjoyed most about their job, advice to students interested in STEM, and some of the hardships,” said Lee (’22).

Her project hit the mark. According to the surveys Lee sent to students who attended the panel, more than 50% felt that they had gained an interest in STEM careers, gained more knowledge about the careers presented and became more interested in animal science. Lee’s data analysis can be found in more detail on her website.

“Later this year, it will be my turn to apply for colleges. Through my own project, I have discovered my strong interest in majoring in science,” said Lee (’22). “I hope that more girls will get an opportunity to discover the possibilities of their future job.”