Girls learn about STEM careers from local women in Junior Achievement “Dream Fair” event

By Lora Painter

On Friday, April 29th, 2022, on the campus of Western Michigan University, Junior Achievement of Southwest Michigan introduced 7th and 8th-grade girls to the exciting possibilities of working in STEM-related fields.

The message students heard from the event is they can do anything they set out to accomplish. The students learned about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers, which are great opportunities in high demand. Junior Achievement’s hope is that girls will develop big career dreams. Students received a full day of leadership education and mentoring. Much of the focus will be on STEM careers. Women from all walks of life in STEM were keynote speakers, program leaders, or mentors for the day. These volunteers will discuss their career pathways, education, job responsibilities, and any challenges they may have faced in middle school, in their life, and their careers.

The 2022 event speakers were:

Jodi Havera, Chief Financial Officer, Landscape Forms: Jodi joined Landscape Forms in January 2016. Landscape Forms is the industry leader in integrated solutions of high-design site furniture, advanced LED lighting, structure, and custom environments. The company is based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. In her role as CFO, Jodi oversees the Finance and IT teams and works with the Executive Leadership Team to set and execute the Strategic Plan of the company. Jodi brings over 20 years of experience to her role at Landscape Forms. She began her career with BDO USA, where she spent 10 years in the assurance practice. From there, she went on to hold positions of Controller at MPI Research, and CFO at Ship-Pac, a Ferguson Company. She is a licensed CPA and a graduate of Western Michigan University. Jodi is on the Board of Junior Achievement of Southwest Michigan and is also actively involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Kalamazoo River Valley.

Dr. Carolyn Whatley, Chief Medical Officer, Family Health Center, Inc: Dr. Whatley is a transformational physician leader with over 15 years of servant leadership experience. She has expertise in bringing diverse groups of individuals together, proving oversight and collaboration with different teams. Dr. Whatley is skilled at improving quality, efficiency, clinical innovation, and performance improvement. Dr. Whatley has 17 years of direct patient care specializing in hospital medicine. After graduating from State University at Stony Brook, Dr. Whatley earned her medical degree from Harvard Medical School. She also obtained her Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in Health Care Management.

Sydney Davis, Founder, NixCode: Sydney is the founder of NixCode, a no-code app development software company. She is dedicated to supporting non-technical entrepreneurs and helping them launch their first successful mobile app. Since launching in April 2020, her platform supports 56,000 users and received a $3.3M valuation at the 2020 year-end. Like many entrepreneurs, she has bootstrapped her entrepreneurship from the beginning including winning numerous equity-free pitch competitions totaling over $100,000. To date, Sydney has been recognized as one of 30 Influential Women Advancing AI and a Forbes Next 1000 Entrepreneur Honoree.