A Night to STEM-member


In the news




Stemming from two women's interest in inspiring students of the opportunities in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers, A Night to STEM-member was created. Designed and executed by Olivia Davis and Kara Celi, A Night to STEM-member took place on January 25, 2018 at Wayne Valley High School in Wayne, NJ. The event included:

Industry panel

Speaker sessions

Raffle prizes

Networking reception







Thank you to our amazing, talented industry panel. I know the students found value in each of your unique journeys. Also, thank you Kara - you successfully moderated your very first panel!






Derek Spain, Gemologist & Geologist

Science: Derek received his B.S. in Geology from Georgia Southern University and his GG from GIA. He currently works at Jack of Diamonds, Intl. in the Diamond District in Manhattan where he's in charge of reporting diamond and gemstone quality to customers.

Yasmine El Garhi, UX Designer, IBM

Technology: Yasmine received her B.S. in HCI and 2nd B.S. in Management Information Systems from the NJIT in Newark, NJ. She currently works as a UX Designer at IBM, enhancing the pricing experience for new solutions on the mainframe.

Nick Benzoni, Mechanical Engineer, MakerBot

Mechanical Engineering: Nick received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from UCLA in 2015. He then got his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2017. His M.S. thesis work focused on the development of a Smart Feedback Device aimed at facilitating water conservation.

Diana Kris Navarro, Software Engineer, Tumblr

Software Engineering: Diana is a founding sister of the non-profit organization Girls Who Code and has finished up internships at Qualcomm, Adobe, and Tumblr. Recently she was featured in Forbes for an article where she was interviewed by the CEO of AppNexus about women in technology.

Allen Hoffmeyer, Derivatives Trader, Koch Supply & Trading

Mathematics: Allen received his PhD in Mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he specialized in probability theory and stochastic analysis. Currently employed at Koch Supply & Trading as a derivatives trader, he specializes in trading volatility. Prior to KS&T, he worked for a couple of years as a quant on the trading floor of a major, international investment bank based in Manhattan.

Thank you to our speakers who spoke on how they got to where they are, what influenced them, what intrigued them about the STEM world, and left the students with three keys to success in STEM.






Jennifer Strycharz, Systems Engineer, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. A Lockheed Martin Company

Jennifer received her B.E. in Chemical Engineering and M.E. in Systems Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. She currently works as a Systems Engineer for Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. on their newest heavy lift helicopter, the CH-53K King Stallion.

Shaily Dalesandro, Computer Systems Compliance Manager, Covance

Shaily is a computer systems compliance professional with over fifteen years of experience including IT project management, process management, and business analysis. She received her B.S. in Information Systems from The College of NJ and her M.S. in Information Systems from Stevens Institute of Technology.

Victor Dibia, Research Staff Member, Human-Agent Collaboration Lab, IBM

Victor received his M.S in Information Networking from Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh and a PhD in Information Systems from City University of Hong Kong. He currently works as a Research Staff Member at IBM Research where some of his work involves developing maker kits that help people learn about cognitive technology.

We had 70 students and members of the community register through our Eventbrite event. We gave out a swag bag to all the attendees and had a free raffle to enter.





Wayne Valley High School AV team helped with lighting and sound throughout the event.

SparkFun donated mini arduino boards, stickers, and shirts as raffle prizes.

Lisa DeLuca donated her successful Kickstarter product, WireRubber as a raffle prize.


We also had the Wayne Valley SciTech Club - which was founded because of this event - help as volunteers. Kara is the first student president of the club.



Wayne Valley High Robotics Club displayed selected projects they have been working on.


Following the industry panel and speaker sessions, Wayne Valley High and Rockridge Construction provided food and beverage. The students were able to mingle with the guests and enjoy two company booths: IBM TJbot and Girls Who Code.



Thank you to my fellow Georgia Tech alumni in helping make this event successful.

Thank you to Eve from Girls Who Code who shared opportunities with the attendees.

We could not have done this event without the people and companies who donated to help make it successful and fun for the attendees. Kara and I are so appreciative of your involvement and shared commitment in spreading awareness of the opportunities in STEM.

A very special thanks to the Assistant Principal of Wayne Valley High School, Brian Faehndrich, who helped us organize and execute this event.


Planning this event was an incredible learning experience. I plan to share the processes and best practices we created. Stay tuned!


Logo by Kara Celi





Kara Celi, Olivia Davis


Kara and I met in the summer of 2017 through a women's mentorship program #BUILTBYGIRLS. The program matches young women with professionals in the industry who share similar interests. Kara and I took full advantage of our sessions and decided we wanted to build something tangible together. Something that would boost her communities interest in STEM and build her leadership skills at the same time.

We met once a month for 6 months to craft A Night to STEM-member. This was the first time either of us had attempted to pull off an event like this. I had never organized something at this scale - planning this event was out of both our comfort zones.

Each email, each call, each person we pitched this to taught us something new that we needed to do to pull this off. Together, we learned how to get speakers to be interested in dedicating their time, how to get sponsors to see this as a valuable opportunity, and how to pitch it to the community as a cool thing.

Even though we are at different places in our lives, it is equally important to us to share the opportunities that exist within STEM careers. When I was in high school I didn't know what computer science meant or the trends that were happening in technology - I didn't know how beneficial it would've been for me to start learning earlier. I want to communicate that to today's high school students. That high school is not too early to start learning and exploring how technology is layering into multiple industries and having the basic knowledge and skills will be extremely beneficial when applying your skills.

A very special thanks to the Assistant Principal of Wayne Valley High School, Brian Faehndrich, who helped us organize and execute this event.


builtbygirls community aroundtown mentorship event