Conference shows girls the ‘sky’s the limit’

The national AAUW presents the EYH conference across the country each year. The AAUW has 1,300 branches and more than 100,000 members. The organization promotes equity for all women and girls, lifelong education and positive societal change. More details are at

  • Wednesday, April 2, 2008 9:18pm
  • News

Forensic scientist Geraldeen Chavez talks to a group of high school students during the Expanding Your Horizons science and math workshop at BCC on Tuesday

Learn more

The national AAUW presents the EYH conference across the country each year. The AAUW has 1,300 branches and more than 100,000 members. The organization promotes equity for all women and girls, lifelong education and positive societal change. More details are at

A group of 500 high school girls learned “the sky’s the limit” at this year’s Expand Your Horizons conference at Bellevue Community College.

The annual conference, now in its 26th year, was presented by the Lake Washington branch of the American Association of University Women.

The all day conference, which focused on math, science and technology, featured Dr. Yoky Matsuoka, a UW researcher in Robotics and Neurology. Her slide show presentation gave a brief overview of her work in developing prosthetic limbs.

“It’s important to pursue opportunities that aren’t normally encouraged for girls,” Dr. Matsuoka said. “By pursuing engineering, I learned tools in college that I not only use in my career but also to solve everyday problems.”

Other presenters were from companies including Alfresco Garden Design, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, Federal Aviation Administration, King County Metro, Microsoft, Boeing, The Seattle Aquarium and Virginia Mason Medical Center. In all, employees from 38 companies volunteered their time to present at the conference.

The conference incorporates hour-long workshops that cover topics including hands-on ecology, crime lab fingerprinting, web use, space travel and dermatology. Prior to the conference the girls select three workshops to attend throughout the day.

Yvette Namath, a software test engineer for Google had the students attempt to break down the way a search engine works by using the example of the book “Green Eggs and Ham”.

“I volunteered to come do this conference because I used to be a teacher and I love working with kids,” said Namath. “Seeing even one girl get really excited about technology is an awesome thing.”

Seattle Police officers Dorothy Kim, Chris Lang and Krista Bair led a workshop called “An Arresting Career.” During the hands-on workshop, they outlined a day in the life of a female police officer and involved the girls in role-playing and discussion.

“Being a police officer is a very empowering job where you have to make quick decisions, utilize resources and develop really good people skills,” explained Kim. “We want young girls to have the exposure to career opportunities that will help them build confidence in their abilities.”

Over in the crime lab workshop called “CSI and Fingerprinting,” lantent print examiners Geraldeen Chavez and Kelli Banks set up a mock crime scene and explained the steps and procedures they would take if it was a real life scenario. Banks explained why she wanted to assist in a workshop for young girls.

“It’s important to show these girls that there’s a world of opportunities out there for them and if they work for it they can pursue anything they want.”

During their presentation, Geraldeen and Banks answered questions about day-to-day tasks, their sometimes erratic work schedule and their salary pay.

Volunteers acted as guides and helped answer questions. Fran Anderson, a member of the AAUW, has volunteered at the annual conference for 20 years. In fact, many of the women volunteers who helped organize and run the conference were past students who had attended the conference in high school and middle school.

Alice Enevoldsen, a past conference attendee, now works for the Pacific Science Center as an enrichment coordinator and planetarian.

“I remember one of my science teachers specifically asking me if I would like to attend the EYH conference when I was in junior high,” Enevoldsen explained. “The conference was my first experience with graphical internet. This was a long time ago of course, but back then search engines were just first coming out and we were given the opportunity to explore the web. The community college that hosted the conference had a huge computer lab that let all the girls have access to a computer. It was great.”

Enevoldsen has returned to lead a workshop called “Kerjillions of Stars” where she takes the girls through a voyage of the solar system through photographs, spectra, astronomy and math. She hopes that conferences like the EYH will show girls that there’s a world of opportunity out there.

“Kids are usually inspired to go into careers where the people working look like them. They think, ‘oh she looks like me I think I could do that.’”

Lindsay Larin can be reached at or 425-453-4602.

In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Drive-thru COVID-19 virus testing last week in the parking lot near Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett. A study by the University of Washington and UnitedHealth Group, conducted at Everett Clinic locations, found that a less-intrusive form of the coronavirus test would require fewer precautions by health care workers. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
New self-swab COVID-19 test is just as accurate, study finds

The study, under peer review, was led by an Everett Clinic doctor. It could speed up testing nationwide.

Life Care Center (LCC) of Kirkland is facing more than $600,000 in fines for its response to the COVID-19 outbreak in its facility. Samantha Pak/Sound Publishing
Life Care in Kirkland facing more than $600K in fines for COVID-19 response

The facility has until Sept. 16 to pay or address areas of concern or it will be terminated.

Dentist checking patient’s teeth. Sound Publishing file photo
Dental foundation serves Medicaid patients through COVID-19

The Arcora Foundation is also attempting to expand its urgent care database, allowing those with different insurances to use its services during the outbreak.

Gov. Jay Inslee during a press conference April 2, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Gov. Inslee’s Facebook page)
Gov. Inslee extends stay-home order to May 4

As in other states, demand for intensive health care due to COVID-19 is expected to peak later in April.

Bellevue police virtual town hall postponed

The meeting was postponed at the last minute after an employee became ill.

Unemployment claims continue to climb

For the week of March 22-28, claims have reached more than 181,000.

Inslee to state businesses: Pivot to make medical equipment

The governor said Wednesday that the state must become self-reliant in the fight against COVID-19.

Eastsiders utilize technology to keep things running during COVID-19 outbreak

Technology and online habits have allowed businesses, city governments, nonprofits and residents to keep going while maintaining social distancing.

Most Read