Nov 15, 2022

Supported by Verizon, YWCA’s Inaugural STEM Day for Girls supports diversity


In honor of National STEM Day this month, the YWCA of Palm Beach County held their inaugural STEM Day for Girls at the Cox Science Center and Aquarium in West Palm Beach.

National STEM Day began in 2015 and is held each year on November 8th to encourage students to pursue careers in the fast-growing fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

More than 80 young ladies attended the inaugural event which was sponsored by Verizon in support of an an effort to introduce students to careers they might not know about. This is especially important for students within the underserved communities where programs and access to STEM activities may be limited or even not available at all. Students attended from Pace Center for Girls, Suncoast Community High School, and Lake Worth Middle School.

The YWCA of Palm Beach County is a nonprofit organization committed to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all and the Pace Center for Girls provides year-round safe and supportive academic and counseling programs to help girls understand their past and prepare for their future. Both organizations support young

Merdochey LaFrance

The day began with a fireside chat with Merdochey LaFrance, Director of Local Engagement, State & Local Government Affairs, at Verizon and Nicole Cummings, Program Manager (and real life Rocket Scientist!) at Aerojet Rocketdyne. Nicole discussed the importance of representation of Black Women in STEM Careers, why mentorship in her personal and professional lives are crucial to her success, and why it’s important to rise above someone’s limited opinion of you when you have a goal and destination in mind.

The ladies then transitioned to a scavenger hunt at the Cox Science Center & Aquarium which allowed them to become acclimated with the museum campus and discover novel STEM concepts. The day ended with each young lady being able to play chemist for the day and creating their own cosmetics.

“I’m so appreciative for ’s partnership at The Cox Science Center and Aquarium as well as the PHENOMENAL leadership of Shea S. SpencerShaundelyn D. EmersonJanelle Floyd, and Sasha Baranov, M.S. at YWCA Palm Beach County who executed the day with excellence!” said LaFrance.

Founded and incorporated in 1959 by the Junior League of the Palm Beaches and open to the public in 1961, the South Florida Science Museum, or now known as The Cox Science Center and Aquarium, has been supporting discovery and innovation for over 60 years!

Cox Science Center and Aquarium

On November 15, 2021 the museum announced exciting expansion plans along with the name change to Cox Science Center and Aquarium, thanks to a record donation from Howard and Wendy Cox. Their $20 million lead gift serves as the keystone for a $45 million capital expansion campaign to take the new Cox Science Center and Aquarium into the future with expanded exhibit and programming spaces, including one of Florida’s largest aquariums. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2023 and a grand opening to the public is targeted for 2025.

Verizon is a huge supporter of tech, innovation, inclusion and inspiration in communities all over the country including here in South Florida through multiple Verizon-backed programs such as Verizon Innovative Learning.