JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –Leaders assigned to the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence (MEDCoE), JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, participated in a speaker panel hosted by Incarnate Word High School (IWHS), San Antonio, Texas, April 5, 2022.
The event was part of IWHS’s 2022 STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts & Math) Speaker Series, an initiative started this school year by IWHS STREAM Coordinator and science teacher, Gabriela Garza; IWHS STREAM Instructional Coach, Cynthia Gudowski-Luna; and IWHS STREAM Consultant, Josephine Hurtado.
“Our goal is to create a strong STREAM curriculum for our students, and it must start with awareness,” Luna said. The focus of the speaker series for the all-girls faith-based private college preparatory school is on strong female role models excelling in STREAM careers. “If girls can meet other females in STREAM fields, then they know that it’s possible for them too.”
So far in the series, the school has hosted dozens of female professionals with a variety of careers and expertise: surgeons, business owners, pilots, dieticians, environmentalists, engineers, forensic scientists, and cybersecurity professionals.
“We are thankful to all of the speakers for sharing their time, experiences and wisdom with our students,” Luna told the panelists.
In this third and final STREAM event of the 2021-2022 school year, Luna invited three MEDCoE leaders to attend two separate panels: Col. Shannon Shaw, Director of the Leader Training Division, and Maj. Lakeisha Logan, Deputy Command Surgeon, participated in the panel for juniors and seniors. Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Valeria Van Dress, the MEDCoE Command Chaplain, participated in the freshman and sophomore panel. Other guest speakers included Kaitlin Teniente, Director of Esports, St. Mary’s University; Jodie Jasper, Investigator, U.S. Department of Agriculture; and Laurie Richardson, Veterinarian, Oaks North Animal Hospital.
According to Luna, the STREAM program supports the IWHS vision and mission of creating a transformational learning experience and optimizing student opportunities in developing their full potential and achievements in STREAM contributions to the community.
Both panels were moderated by IWHS students designated as STREAM ambassadors who asked the speakers a variety of questions, from how they chose their careers and any challenges they faced to how they can be creative and support their communities through their profession. Both groups had approximately 160 students in attendance.
Shaw, a 72D environmental science officer, Logan, a 65D physician assistant and the other panelists opened the program by telling the audience how they chose their current career.
“I had no idea what environmental science was,” Shaw, who was a biology major before the Army selected her for the program, admitted. “I got to do some really cool things with public health, environmental health, drinking water safety and industrial hygiene, things that I never thought would be in my career trajectory, but I think God was looking out for me because I love my career path and have had no regrets.”
Logan garnered a round of applause from the students for her candid answer about what challenges she, as a minority and first generation college graduate, had to overcome to be successful as a physician assistant.
“I suffered from a bit of imposter syndrome initially,” Logan said. She credits amazing mentors that encouraged her early on in her career at times when she felt like she did not belong or was not capable of doing something. “It empowered me to know that these people identified talent in me that I didn’t even realize yet in myself. It allowed me to overcome my feelings that I didn’t belong so I could continue to strive towards those dreams and the destiny that has been ordained in my life.”
Luna, who plans to continue the STREAM speaker series in the 2022-2023 school year, said she does not have a shortage of successful women in STREAM in the local area who want to volunteer to speak to IW students. “Women love to support other women,” Luna said.
MEDCoE will continue to nominate exceptional female role models who have made a significant impact to the Army and Army medicine for future panels.
“It was an honor to have female Army role models visit,” Luna said. “We welcome the opportunity to continue developing a relationship for our students’ academic and career success.”