More than 300 high school students had the opportunity to hear from women leaders from Aurora Health Care after a private showing of the award-winning film ”Hidden Figures” at the Marcus Majestic Cinema of Brookfield on Feb. 23.
The schools involved were North Division High School, South Division High School, James Madison Academic Campus, Alexander Hamilton High School, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School–Milwaukee, Young Coggs Preparatory Academy and St. Joan Antida High School.
Following the film, students heard from a diverse panel of Aurora’s women leaders about overcoming barriers to success and the importance of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The six Aurora panelists included Erika Colon, nurse ambassador; MaryBeth Kingston, chief nursing officer; Jacqueline Oraedu, physician assistant; Dr. Felicia Robertson, family medicine; Dr. Nyama Sillah, plastic and reconstructive surgery; and Dr. Judy Tjoe, surgical breast oncology.
“Times have changed. In today’s world it is critical for any young adult to be familiar with STEM,” said Dr. Tjoe. “Years ago, if you wanted to become a mechanic you needed to know how to use a wrench. But nowadays not only do you need the manual skills, you also need be equipped with a background in math and science to keep up with the innovative advances in the auto industry.”
Hidden Figures covers the untold story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served vital roles during the early years of NASA. In the film, the three mathematicians overcome misconceptions tied to their race and gender in the 1960s.
Students said that both the panel and the film’s inspiring story left them determined to succeed.
“I learned that sometimes in your life you may have people say you can’t do things or you won’t be able to do that because you’re African American or you look different or you’re smaller or you’re bigger,” said 12th-grader Genaia Collins from Holy Redeemer Christian Academy. “You have to just know in your mind that you can do it and don’t let anybody say that you can’t.”
A similar event will occur March 7 at the Marcus Menomonee Falls Cinema with over 100 students from Hartford Union High School and West Bend High School. The event will be followed by a diverse panel of experts from human resources, emergency medicine, nursing and other fields.