Advocating for the Future: Carlow Debuts Pittsburgh’s First Pre-Law Workshop for Young Women
Anything legal can seem confusing. For many young women interested in a career in the law, the only role models they can turn to are fictional litigators they’ve seen on television. Where can they turn for advice? Fortunately, Carlow University’s Women of Spirit® Institute provides the direction they need.
“Not every young woman knows or has legal professionals in her family,” says Allyson Lowe, pre-law advisor and chair of the political science department at Carlow University. That’s why Lowe, in partnership with Carlow’s Women of Spirit® Institute, was determined to create a program to educate young women about legal professions.
|Laurie Petty (far left), Carlow's director of special programs and events, and Allyson Lowe, PhD (far right), chair of Carlow's political science department, with the inaugural class of Pre-Law and Order: The Summer Advocates Academy.
“We wanted to create pathways in which women and girls can be mentored by lawyers; learn about careers in the law; and visit law schools, firms, and courts to begin to learn about the many aspects to a legal career,” says Lowe.
This summer, from June 25-28, Carlow’s Women of Spirit® Institute debuted a new program, Pre-Law and Order: The Summer Advocates Academy. The only pre-professional program of its kind in Pittsburgh geared toward young women interested in the law, the program offered a pre-college for high school students and a pre-professional track for college students.
Pre-Law and Order is serious business. After making it through a rigorous application process, these young advocates jumped right in: from a practice LSAT test, to a case study review at Duquesne University School of Law, and a morning in Allegheny County Criminal Court. They also received instruction from Carlow faculty and members of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and were paired with Carlow alumni mentors who are leaders in government, law, media, and politics.
The goal, says Lowe, is not only to improve student success, but to “expand opportunities for more women of diverse life experiences to enter the profession.”
And diverse they were. The inaugural class of advocates included high school students from the Pittsburgh area and beyond, and college students from Carlow and other universities.
Melanie Schneiderman, a senior at Ithaca College in Cornell, N.Y., calls the workshop “fantastic.”
“The program took away the myth and mystery and made law school feel truly achievable,” says Scheiderman. “I was so inspired by the women we were introduced to. Women have historically been a minority in the legal arena, and this gave me hope.”
The workshop was equally eye-opening for younger women, like Liz Vargo, a high school student from Pittsburgh’s Upper St. Clair suburb.
“The Summer Advocates Academy showed me what it would be like to be a law student and even potentially a real working lawyer,” says Vargo. “I now have a clear understanding of what law school is really like and how to succeed.”
And parents couldn’t agree more. Vargo’s mother, Mary Lou Vargo, says that the workshop offered her daughter a preview of life as a law student—and an opportunity to broaden her perspectives as she considers schools and majors.
“The group also addressed important issues with regard to being a woman in the legal profession that need to be considered as these young women are choosing their career paths,” says Mary Lou Vargo.
The Vargos—like many others—appreciated not only the quality of the program, but also its affordability.
“I was quite impressed by the quality and value of the program,” emphasizes Liz Vargo. “The Summer Advocates Academy was not expensive, and it packed a ton of information and experiences into just three days. Most other summer programs I have attended or considered attending do not compare with Carlow in quality and value.”
Move over TV role models. Thanks to the Women of Spirit® Institute, young women have reality to base their decisions upon. This unique, action- and information-packed workshop is here to stay, offering, as Liz Vargo puts it, “a team of advocates who I know will provide me with any professional or academic advice I may need in the future.”
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A Day in the Life of Summer Science Nation
It's a hot wednesday morning in mid-July. Summer Science Nation and ECO Camp participants are gathered in the atrium at the A.J. Palumbo Hall of Science and Technology for day two of three exciting days exploring science professions.
After a quick continental breakfast, socializing, and announcements, the girls are ready to head off to the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. During the morning announcements, they heard Carlow faculty leaders compare the institute’s cutting-edge work to scenes from a science fiction movie. Could it really be that cool?
|Scientists at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine educate Summer Science Nation participants about their work and demonstrate some of the technology they use in experiments.
At the institute, the girls are taken into a large conference room where John Murphy, the executive director, welcomes them and gives a brief overview of regenerative medicine. There is one main question driving the facility’s work and research, he says: “If a newt or fetus can regrow body parts, why can’t we?”
Murphy then details the institute’s three focuses: tissue engineering, cellular therapies, and medical devices and artificial organs. He describes the different employees at the institute—230 University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine faculty, scientists, engineers, and physicians, many of whom are clinically active.
The research at the institute, Murphy explains, “is a collaborative process between many types of scientists. This makes it quicker and easier for the successful experiments performed at the bench in the research facility to move to the bedside in a health care setting.”
Murphy goes on to describe extracellular matrix (ECM)—the scaffolding material made from animal cells that, when used on humans, attracts stem cells and encourages regeneration. ECM has been used successfully to cure esophageal cancer; engineer organs, arteries, lymph nodes, and facial stem cells; and regenerate a bladder to cure incontinence. In addition, the institute is working on developing applications for ECM to heal burns and improve and heal blindness.
ECM can also be pulverized into a powder to be sprinkled on areas of the body that need regeneration—think of a solider whose quadriceps were partly injured by a roadside bomb. The institute has a lot of military funding because today’s modern warfare results in severe burns to the hands and face. ECM can be used for digit regeneration, healing burns, and healing damage to the optic nerves from military trauma.
|Summer Science Nation participants learn about chromatography and successfully separate blue Kool-Aid from red Kool-Aid in a laboratory experiment entitled, "What Color is Grape Kool-Aid?" led by David Gallaher, PhD, associate professor of chemistry.
After Murphy’s overview, Elizabeth Kollar, DMV, doctor of veterinary medicine and a post-doctoral associate at the institute, gives a presentation entitled, “A Career in Science, a Single Perspective” in which she details her grueling path through college and veterinary school to the institute, where she works in Stephen Badalyak’s laboratory focusing on tissue and organ replacement with ECM. Since ECM is made of pig parts and some of the testing is done on animals, she is one of several veterinarians on staff. She acts as a liaison between the veterinary and medical communities.
Following a lively question and answer session with Kollar, the girls are split into small groups for tours of the laboratory. McGowan Institute researchers have taken time away from their work to show the girls the ECM and some of the equipment they use for testing.
From there, the girls get a true glimpse into a day in the life of a McGowan scientist or researcher. They handle samples of ECM that might actually be used to regenerate veins and other body parts. They view a cell-purifying machine in action. And finally, there is a general consensus: the institute is definitely as cool as it sounded during morning announcements!
Following a pizza lunch back at Carlow, the Summer Science Nation participants visit the laboratory of chemistry associate professor David Gallaher, PhD, where they conduct a hands-on chromatography experiment called “What Color Is Grape
Kool-Aid?” After a quick overview of chromatography and some instructions, the girls team up and are able to separate the red part of the Kool-Aid from the blue part of the Kool-Aid—the two colors that combine to make purple Kool-Aid.
From there, they venture into the anatomy lab with Assistant Professor of Biology Laura Schatzkamer to dissect animal brains, hearts, and eyeballs.
Feeling good about their accomplishments, Summer Science Nation participants reunite with ECO Camp participants for the final activity of the day—a lecture by Maryann Donovan, PhD, MPH, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute’s Center for Environmental Oncology.
Focusing on epigenetic diseases and exposure to environmental toxins, Donovan discusses regional disease clusters—areas where a disproportionate number of people turn up with a certain disease, due to an environmental toxin. She describes genetic disrupters and common toxins found in everyday products, including Bisphenol-A, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and other toxins found in our air, water, and land.
Suddenly all of this hits home. “What about tanning beds,” students ask? “What about the correlation between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and certain toxins?” And finally, “How do you deal with knowing all this stuff is out there and you’re constantly being exposed to it?” Donovan explains that you have to reduce your exposure as much as possible, and try not to worry.
The girls have a lot on their minds as they head home that evening. As they say their good-byes and disperse for the night, they wonder what they’ll uncover tomorrow during their final action-packed day exploring the fascinating world of science.
Sample a bit of Summer Science Nation and learn more about what the girls experienced:
McGowan Institute 60 Minutes story
University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute’s Center for Environmental Oncology
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Beyond Pools and Pop Music
When the middle of the summer rolls around, many high school girls are busy lounging by the pool, listening to pop music, hanging out at the mall, or working at a local retail store. But this year, for more than 60 ambitious girls, those hot July days were spent exploring career options in health care, science, environmental, or law professions during Carlow University’s Women of Spirit Institute® summer workshops.
Instituted in 2006, the Women of Spirit® workshops expose girls to potential careers, introducing them to professionals in various fields and fostering relationships with like-minded peers. Students also receive a tour of Carlow University and an overview of the college admissions process.
While most workshop participants are from Pittsburgh, there have been quite a few from nearby states including New Jersey, Ohio, and Vermont.
Just as students draw support and encouragement, so does the University as a whole.
“All of the workshops are great for Carlow University,” says Laurie Petty, director of special programs and events at Carlow. “They allow us to collaborate with organizations throughout Pittsburgh and to foster connections between our faculty members and potential employers of Carlow students.”
Carlow was the first Pittsburgh-area university to offer career camps to high school students, the oldest of which is Prepare to Care, now in its sixth year, which focuses on health care careers. This year, Prepare to Care students spent July 10-12 participating in interactive lectures, hands-on science labs, and field trips to UPMC’s cutting-edge facilities, including visits to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and UPMC Mercy.
Specifically designed for high school girls interested in becoming nurses, physicians, surgeons, or social workers, or who want to learn more about health care career options, Prepare to Care is a collaboration between Carlow University and UPMC that began with Carlow’s link to UPMC Shadyside and Carlow’s perfusion technology program.
“Carlow is widely regarded for its nursing program,” says Petty, “and we wanted to leverage that reputation to introduce high school students to other health care fields, such as perfusion technology. UPMC was also looking for a way to generate interest in health care fields among all high school students—not just those headed for college.”
|Participants in Carlow's Prepare to Care summer workshop care for a "patient" in Carlow's Nursing Simulation and Skills Laboratory.
According to Petty, Prepare to Care is consistently filled to capacity—and always has a waiting list. “With the funding from UPMC and our amazing partnership that provides access to
state-of-the-art UPMC facilities, Prepare to Care has become a popular way for high school girls to visualize themselves working in health care fields,” she says.
As the Women of Spirit® summer offerings continue to expand, Carlow strives to make them affordable, often reducing the $225 cost to just $100 for the entire workshop, thanks to continued funding from UPMC and many in-kind donations from the places that the girls visit—some organizations provide free lunches, others provide free tours and speakers who would normally charge a speaking fee.
Besides UPMC, “Prepare to Care would not be as successful without the help of the Carlow University School of Nursing,” emphasizes Petty. “The School of Nursing has been extremely generous and has provided scholarships and in-kind services for Prepare to Care every year.”
Danielle Spirnak DNP, MSN, RN, assistant professor of nursing and director of the Carlow Nursing Simulation and Skills Lab, has been the School of Nursing’s lead connection to Prepare to Care for the past three years.
“Through my involvement with the workshop, I’ve seen many young women given the opportunity to explore many aspects of the health care system and possible career opportunities, tour local Pittsburgh hospitals, and speak to health care professionals,” says Spirnak. “Prepare to Care is an excellent way for high school students to view health care with their own eyes.”
Prepare to Care has also helped Carlow University maintain a great working relationship with UPMC Mercy. “It’s good for the girls to understand the tangible connection Carlow University and the Sisters of Mercy have with the founding of the hospital,” says Petty.
In 2007, on the heels of the successful Prepare to Care, and recognizing the need to generate more interest among high school girls in science professions, Carlow University introduced its second workshop, Summer Science Nation.
Similar to Prepare to Care, Summer Science Nation acquaints girls with career opportunities in science through hands-on lab experiments, field trips to Pittsburgh’s research and industry facilities, meetings with scientists in the field, and other activities.
This July 17-19, Summer Science Nation participants completed laboratories led by Carlow professors in physics, energy management, molecular biology, analytical chemistry, and body part dissection; toured the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the National Aviary; and attended lectures by a forensic scientist and the director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute’s Center for Environmental Oncology.
“Members of Carlow’s science faculty are instrumental in the success of Summer Science Nation,” says Petty. “They are passionate about what they do, and that enthusiasm is apparent when they’re working with the girls. It’s obvious, too, that they are just as fascinated by and having just as much fun on our field trips.”
Science faculty members Laura Schatzkamer, assistant professor of biology, and David Gallaher, PhD, associate professor of chemistry, make a point to explain to students why they chose their specializations and help familiarize them with the courses of study required to obtain college-level science degrees.
|A dissection laboratory in which participants explore pig eyes, hearts, and brains with Carlow Assistant Professor of Biology Laura Schatzkamer (center) is one of the most popular aspects of Summer Science Nation.
“I have been a part of Summer Science Nation for a number of years, and I continue to be involved because it is an opportunity for me to interact with younger students—something unusual for me—and because I enjoy observing their reactions to the speakers we bring in and the sites we visit,” says Schatzkamer. “The students are extremely interested, appreciative, and engaged, often asking intelligent, detailed questions of the professionals who address them. I also continue to learn a good deal myself, which is always fun, and working with Laurie Petty is the icing on the cake.”
“I love sharing the excitement I feel about science with the students,” agrees Gallaher. “I remember being in their shoes and just being absolutely amazed by science. It was that excitement (along with some very good mentors) that helped me get to where I am
today. I hope that I can help kindle that passion for science in others.”
Recognizing the popularity of sustainable and green careers in Pittsburgh and beyond, in 2009, Carlow University introduced its third workshop for high school girls, ECO Camp.
“Starting ECO Camp was a natural evolution for Carlow, as one of the critical concerns of the Sisters of Mercy is the Earth and the preservation of our environment,” says Petty.
ECO Camp is structured around three core themes: environment, energy, and sustainability. Participants attend workshops and lectures, conduct experiments, and tour local organizations dedicated to environmental sustainability.
At the 2012 ECO Camp, run concurrently with Summer Science Nation, participants attended an energy management workshop with Brad Hochberg, energy manager at Carnegie Mellon’s Facilities Management Services; toured the Carlow University residence halls and made suggestions for making them more energy efficient and sustainable; took water samples from the Allegheny River, later
testing them in lab experiments; and toured Conservation Consultants, Inc., a Pittsburgh company committed to promoting responsible energy and resource use in homes and buildings.
|ECO Campers explore one of Pittsburgh's many urban gardens.
In addition, students joined Summer Science Nation participants as they toured the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine; heard a lecture about environmental toxins from the director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute’s Center for Environmental Oncology; attended an enrichment workshop at the National Aviary; and received a behind-the-scenes tour of Phipps Conservatory focused on green living.
One of the reasons ECO Camp works so well, says Petty, is René Picó, PhD, associate professor and science educator from the Carlow University School of Education.
“René does a wonderful job engaging the girls throughout ECO Camp and with his workshop on biofuels and his New Science Ideas and Green Alternatives Scavenger Hunt,” says Petty. “The scavenger hunt allows the girls to use their smart phones to scan QR codes to find clues to complete various tasks—they love it!”
“I was honored when Carlow invited me to take part in this great educational endeavor,” says Picó. “ECO Camp integrates many facets of the daily human experience: from our personal choices and scientific discoveries, to the applications of multidisciplinary innovations. We factor in our individual actions toward the environment, recognizing that we are not only the stewards of the little piece of real estate we have been presented with on our planet, but we are the citizens who will make decisions all through our career paths influencing our communities, our country, and our future.”
ECO Camp’s missions tie directly to those established by the Sisters of Mercy. “There is an everlasting message of service in what we do,” says Picó, “regardless of what career path our participants may take. Our mission shines from beginning to end, and that’s why I continue to be involved with ECO Camp.”
In addition to the three science-oriented camps, this year, Carlow introduced Pre-Law and Order: The Summer Advocates Academy, the only pre-professional program of its kind in Pittsburgh for young women interested in law. The program offers two tracks—a pre-college track for high school students and a pre-professional track for college students.
To attend the four-day program, held June 25-28, 2012, applicants had to submit a law school-styled personal statement detailing their interest in the legal profession, as well as a letter of recommendation.
Once accepted, the “advocates in training” enjoyed an intensive program that featured a full-length practice LSAT test, a case study review at Duquesne University School of Law, and a morning in Allegheny County Criminal Court.
All participants received instruction from Carlow faculty and members of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and were paired with mentors who are recent Carlow alumni and community leaders in government, law, media, and politics.
The Advocates Academy grew out of a partnership between the Women of Spirit® Institute and Allyson Lowe, PhD, Carlow’s pre-law advisor and chair of the political science department. Lowe wanted to create the program as a way to better prepare women for law school.
Click here for more information about Carlow’s summer workshops for high school girls.
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Michele Rehfeld Atkins (’82, Woman of Spirit® 2001) was a nominee for the 2012 ATHENA Award of the ATHENA Award Program of Greater Pittsburgh. Atkins is president and CEO of Braddock’s community based not-for-profit organization, Heritage Community Initiatives (HCI). The award was presented at a luncheon on September 24, 2012, at Pittsburgh’s Westin Convention Center.
Leslie Bracksick (Woman of Spirit® 2002) writes a regular magazine column on leadership for Smart Business Magazine Pittsburgh. Access her column here.
Michele Fabrizi, '75, Woman of Spirit® 2000
Ronald R. and Judith Davenport, DMD
(Woman of Spirit®
2010) are the recipients of the Outstanding Philanthropist award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Western Pennsylvania Chapter. The Davenports will be honored at a reception at Pittsburgh’s Sheraton Station Square on National Philanthropy Day—November 15, 2012. Each year AFP honors individuals and groups who, through their hard work and dedication, have enhanced philanthropy, their communities, and the world. Judith
was also named one of the New Pittsburgh Courier’s
50 Women of Excellence at a luncheon on June 28, 2012, at the Westin Convention Center.
Michele Fabrizi (’75, Woman of Spirit® 2000) was appointed chair of the board of the Andy Warhol Museum. Fabrizi also serves as a trustee of the Carnegie Museums and is a member of its executive committee. President and CEO of MARC USA, Pittsburgh’s largest advertising agency, Fabrizi was also featured on the cover of the August 2012 issue of Smart Business Pittsburgh and was highlighted in the article, “Client-Focused Philosophy.”
A ribbon cutting ceremony on April 18, 2012 dedicated the new Thelma Lovette YMCA at 2114 Centre Avenue in Pittsburgh’s Hill District neighborhood. The new facility, which honors Thelma Williams Lovette (Woman of Spirit® 2000), provides vital programs and services to the community. Born in 1916 as the fifth of 11 children who grew up in the Hill District, Lovette’s life centered around the YMCA. In her early years, however, she was a spectator, as girls were not allowed to participate. In the late 1950s, Lovette was one of the first female board members of the Centre Avenue YMCA. She was later one of the first two women elected to the board of directors of the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh.
Carol Neyland (’73, Woman of Spirit® 1995), a vice president at Dollar Bank, now heads the bank’s Community Development Department. Neyland is also a new member of Carlow’s Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Pictured above: Ambassador Daniel M. Rooney hosts a contingent of Carlow MFA and theatre students to the U.S Embassy in Dublin on June 15, 2012. Trinity College Dublin, the top academic school and the seat of writing in Ireland, is the new home for the June residency of Carlow University's Master of Fine Arts in creative writing program. Ambassador Rooney’s wife, Patricia Rooney, is a 2006 Woman of Spirit®.
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Boca Raton Reunion
Carlow alumni and friends are invited to a reunion at the Morikami Museum
in Boca Raton, Florida on Saturday, February 16, 2013.
For more information contact Anita Dacal at 412-578-6343 or firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2012 Carlow University
3333 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
CREDITS Managing Editor: Alison Juram D'Addieco; Contributor: Laurie J. Petty, Director, Special Programs and Events; Graphic Designer: Diana Hurd
Carlow University is an affirmative action, equal opportunity institution.
Produced in cooperation with University Communications and External Relations. 0812017DH