Oakton hosts 800+ girls for Futures Unlimited

Cheng talked to students about her career path and confidence.
Des Plaines, Ill. (Dec. 15, 2022) – More than 800 eighth-grade students from 22 middle schools participated in Oakton’s Futures Unlimited on Dec. 15, a daylong annual program that introduces young female and gender-expansive students to the world of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) - inspiring them to explore new interests and pursue their passions.

“If you don’t see a role model, you can be a pioneer and become a role model for others,” said Eugenia L. Cheng, Ph.D., scientist in residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and honorary visiting fellow at City, University of London, UK.

“Think about who you want to be and what are the things you would like to improve in the world,” added Cheng.

The program, started over 25 years ago, included hands-on STEM-related workshops encouraging students to question, research, explore, analyze and present their findings. Some of the sessions included the following topics: Extracting DNA from strawberries; Math and M&Ms; Out of power? Use chemistry to charge your cellphone; Recyclable fashion; and Artificial intelligence.

“While we often say that we can do anything and pursue any career we wish, societal norms often make it difficult and sometimes impossible for us to achieve our dreams. In Futures Unlimited, we want to ignite a passion for STEM in female and gender-expansive students in an environment where they feel supported,” said Gloria Liu, Oakton’s grants manager of STEAM-H and special projects.

Do you know a high school student who would like to start their college career while still in high school? Perhaps they would like to experience a new academic rigor or build confidence in pursuing a college education. Or, they may want to save money and time by simultaneously earning high school and college credit. Check out Oakton’s Dual Credit and Concurrent Enrollment programs to see which option is right for them: www.oakton.edu/academics/special-programs/high-school-dual-credit.