Meet Katelyn Wamsted, Chief Program Officer at Girlstart. Read more below on Katelyn’s day to day and how she became a leading lady and advocate for inspiring girls in STEM.
Q: How did you become a leader and advocate in inspiring girls in the STEM industries?
A: I have always wanted to give every kid the opportunity and resources to become whoever they wanted to be, whether that’s in STEM or not. I first saw the impact informal education programs can have on kids during my time as a camp counselor, and, as I started my work at Girlstart, I became more aware of the startling disparity between the number of women and men in STEM fields and careers. Working with Girlstart for 16 years, I have had the opportunity to be involved in the STEM community serving on the ISEA board, collaborating with SciGirls, National and Texas Girls Collaborative Projects. Through my role and experience, I have developed Girlstart’s method and model, building and designing core programs that inspire girls and increase their interest in STEM pursuits.
Q: What advice would you give to young women today looking to launch a career in the technology realm?
A: Research shows that we are much more likely to reach our goals if we write them down and share them, and, as part of every core Girlstart program, we set aside time for girls to brainstorm and write down specific goals for their future. As they do this we ask them to not only think about their end goal, but to think about the steps they will need to take to get there and who they will need around them to achieve these goals. Our support systems, mentorships, family, and friends can be the key to resilience when solving challenges, and I would advise young women to take the time to build a support system from those whose values align with and support their future goals.
Q: What is an accomplishment that you are most proud of?
A: As much as I wish our world was not living through a pandemic, I truly am proud of what Girlstart was able to accomplish. We completely pivoted our 2020 summer camp within two months from weekly, in-person to week-long virtual camps with individual kits for each girl. This involved recreating every aspect of camp, from the curriculum and camp day structure to camper registration and logistics. We ended up hosting 33 Zoom camps serving over 1000 girls over the course of the summer
Q: What are you most excited about with new advances in technology?
A: I’m excited that we can incorporate new and relevant technology directly into our programs, exposing girls and getting them interested in technology concepts at a young age. This past summer we used Tinkercad for 3D modeling, Scratch for drag-and-drop programming, and each camper received her own micro:bit mini computer, including coding with Python. Additionally, technology has allowed us to reach more girls wherever they are with virtual programs via Zoom and other digital platforms.
Q: Is there a piece of Technology you can’t live without?
A: My sound machine, and probably my cell phone. 😉
Q: As a leader, how do you start your days? // What are your tips for productivity in the midst of a busy schedule?
A: I typically wake up and immediately remind myself of my calendar, then I wash your face, get my kiddo ready for school, and go pick up coffee and figure something out for breakfast. I try to take time early in the day to grind out the hard tasks that take a lot of focus before I go into what typically is a day full of meetings
Q: What are some of your favorite ways to spend time outside of working? Any tips for relaxation and de-stressing?
A: Watch Great British Baking Show, listen to audiobooks, love to decorate for every season/holiday, spending time outside with family at the pool or Arboretum
Q: Anything else you would like to share.
A: I’m very proud of Girlstart’s programs and impact on the girls we serve. If anyone is interested in getting involved with Girlstart by donating, volunteering, or leading programs as one of our frontline staff, they can find more information on our website at https://girlstart.org/. You can also sign up for our newsletter to be in the know about all our upcoming events, programs, and opportunities.