Sally Roberts is a pro at getting middle school girls stoked about STEM careers – and it's earned the Wayne State University assistant math professor big props.
She's received a 2014 Woman of Distinction Award from the WSU chapter of Michigan ACE Network, a professional organization for women working in higher education, for her work as director of GO-GIRL. That's short for Gaining Options: Girls Investigate Real Life. This free program gives kids, especially minorities, hands-on experience with science, tech, engineering and math careers – and sparks their college ambitions.
"I started spending my Saturdays assisting adolescent girls when the GO-GIRL program began in 2002," says Roberts of Grosse Pointe Woods, who's been an educator for 46 years. In a 10-week Saturday enrichment program, girls work in research teams with university mentors. They gain skills in data analysis and scientific methods, tour real labs, meet female researchers and join in career discussions.
Roberts' mission is personal, too: She wants to make young women feel and become more predominant in their career paths. "I wish I was given the opportunity that these girls have," she says, adding that many arrive wanting to leave – but, by summer's end, they don't want to go home.
"I find it so uplifting and rewarding to touch so many people," she said. "I would have retired a long time ago if it weren't for GO-GIRL showing me there's still so much work to do."