Cynthia Bennett, Women & Hi Tech’s new K-12 Outreach Director, serves as a Senior Health Equity Analyst for the I-HOPE program at Purdue University. I-HOPE (Indiana Healthy Opportunities for Everyone) is a statewide initiative that aims to reduce health disparities for better health outcomes. Her team supports communities with innovative tools for building collaboration, hearing the voice of the community, and guiding participants to action. Cynthia sees significant overlap between the work she does at Purdue and her role with Women & Hi Tech. “My role at Purdue gives me a lens for needs in equity and education which will enable me to help Women & Hi Tech set goals and serve youth in meaningful ways.”
As an Arsenal Technical High School alumna, Cynthia’s perspective is also personal. “I speak from experience as a young person who knew there were resources and professionals helping other students guide and grow their careers—and having those feelings, wondering if anyone would ever show up for us someday. I always said when I could be the voice for those who are forgotten or unseen, I would gather a group and share the message that the marginalized, too, can be anything they want to be.”
Cynthia assumes the role of K-12 Outreach Director after serving as the Committee Co-Chair since 2020. She is excited to share some wins that have already been achieved. “We met our reach-goal with Girl Scouts by doing virtual STEM programming to girls across the state. The leaders were so happy we could do that. It gave us a chance to use the T in STEM and be forward-facing.” Cynthia also spoke on a career panel for The Girls STEM Institute at IUPUI. “It was such an honor to share my story with girls in high school who intend to pursue STEM careers. They asked great questions about how I got where I am in my career.”
Looking ahead to 2022, she shared some insight into her goals. “I have a major goal to reach out to schools in underserved communities. I want to expose the students to smart women who can speak to them, encourage them to pursue careers in STEM, and help them be good students.” She is also excited about the potential for advancing impactful partnering opportunities with youth serving organizations, such as Girls Inc. of Greater Indianapolis and their Eureka STEM program and continuing to grow the relationship with the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana.
“We need to be encouraging students we don’t interact with on a continual basis. That’s the inclusion element that makes the pipeline more diverse and allows people access to STEM opportunities who don’t even know they can have a seat at the table. We will continue to align our thinking and our actions to reach students who really need us.”