San Benito High School junior Ashley Maggiora and senior Mary Hagins spent part of their summer at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, participating in what Maggiora called “an absolutely incredible and life-changing experience” at a week-long camp in which scientists and engineers shared with high school students what everyday life in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is like.
The program, for which Maggiora and Hagins were nominated by SBHS teachers, was called SAGE-S, which stands for SLAC Accelerating Girls’ Engagement in STEM.
Maggiora, who was nominated by her Pre-Calculus Honors teacher Rick Dukes, stayed in Stanford University’s freshman dorms during the camp, “giving many of us our first experience of dorm life with a roommate,” she said, adding that she and her roommate “developed a strong friendship and are still in contact.”
Camp participants spent seven days at the national accelerator lab, conducting experiments, listening to technical talks from scientists and job-shadowed a number of professionals at the lab.
“My entire experience there was life-changing,” Maggiora said. “I met so many incredible people, from laser scientists to scientists taking the next steps towards investigating dark matter. While there, we also got to see one of the longest straight particle accelerators in the world. It was truly fascinating.”
Each evening, the camp attendees returned to the Stanford campus and attend professional growth sessions, learning how to present themselves in professional environments.
“I had so much fun while doing it. I loved every aspect of the camp and I hope that so many more San Benito High School students will be given the opportunity to attend this camp in the future,” Maggiora said. “The best part of all of this is that the camp is fully funded by SAGE-S’s sponsors, meaning that anyone could attend, without money and cost having to play a factor. All meals and any other expenses were fully covered.”
The camp, she noted, “seemed like a dream come true for myself, as I am very interested in a STEM career. The camp opened my mind to the wide range of options I could have open to me later in life.”