Roche hosts hundreds of high school students in virtual STEM Careers Day

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are the type of sought after majors that many college students pursue when considering a career in biotechnology. But how, exactly, do those majors translate into jobs after college? Roche wants to help high school biotechnology students discover what those possibilities might be through hosting their signature event each spring - Roche STEM Careers Day. This year, virtually, the event reached over 900 students at six high schools across three states!

What exactly is STEM Careers Day?

The event began in the 2019/2020 school year as an in-person event inviting local high school biotech students onto our campuses for a full day of lab visits, STEM workshops/presentations, career mentoring, lunch with Roche colleagues and even a tour on their traveling product Navigator bus. Due to Covid-19, it all came to a halt in March of 2020, with the company postponing the remaining events to protect the health and safety of students, school staff and Roche volunteers.

With strict Covid-19 protocols still in place at the start of the 2020/2021 school year, Roche reimagined the event into a virtual model, with the unexpected benefit of an extended reach. “Despite not being able to meet in-person, we persevered with the goal of inspiring local high school biotech students to examine their science, technology, engineering and math-related careers goals with clarity. The ultimate goal of these interactions is to inspire the next generation of biotechnology professionals, who’ll be faced with tackling future health challenges,” shared Darlene Kryza, Community Engagement Lead, Roche Diagnostics. “We were able to invite schools local to our California, Arizona and New Jersey sites this school year, with 53 volunteers responsible for 33 individual engagements.”

Virtual STEM career day

The participating high schools included: Tucson Magnet High School and Pueblo High School in Arizona; Amador High School, Dublin High School and Santa Clara High School in California; and North Plainfield High School in New Jersey.

Roche hosted a variety of virtual STEM presentations as well as career mentoring sessions, where students could connect and ask questions about the biotech industry with current professionals. Teachers could choose between a variety of topics, with everything from learning how diagnostics play a role in the fight against Covid-19 to how to navigate healthcare business negotiations.

One Dublin High School student shared: “Seeing all of the scientists having to go through such a challenging situation, rapidly having to develop a test during a pandemic, made me understand the time and effort behind the tests we have out now for Covid-19. Also, seeing the success and pride the scientists had in creating something that can greatly benefit humanity further inspired me to do something similar.”

Exposing students to STEM-related companies also shows students the potential careers available in the field regardless of their math and science abilities. One student from Tucson Magnet High School shared: “I'm not great at math, but science has always been interesting to me, so to know that I can go into STEM and be involved in other aspects like marketing/management was helpful.”

Now more than ever, the STEM field is in need of diverse perspectives to help cater to the ever-changing needs of today’s world. Our STEM Careers Day could be a driving force in kick-starting the next generation of innovative healthcare professionals.

A student from North Plainfield High School shared: “It has been my dream since I was a kid to be a doctor so, by coming to this meeting today it really gave me better insight on how to work hard in order to achieve that dream. It just shows you that dreams are obtainable if you work towards them!”

Despite the virtual setbacks, we definitely hit our mark with inspiring and influencing what could someday become the next generations of innovators to work in healthcare or biotech and look forward to inspiring more students in the future.

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