Parent Program Schedule (English)

(English) Expanding Your Horizons Speaker_Organization Info 2019

(English) Expanding Your Horizons Speaker_Organization Info 2019 -pages-deleted



Amanda Henderson

Amanda Henderson is a doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Biological Science department. She is a South-side Chicago native, product of a single-parent household, CPS attendee, first generation college graduate, and community enthusiast. She has a passion for science education and economic empowerment; with a background in preschool, elementary and college level teaching. She serves on the board of directors for two non-profits and a scholarship hacker.


High School/College Prep talks:

Veronica Abraham-Garcia

Veronica Abraham-Garcia is a College Recruiter for Wright College-One of the City Colleges of Chicago. She went to Dominican University as a first generation student for her undergraduate degree in International Business and Spanish Studies. She also holds a Master’s of Science in Management (MSM) with a focus in Organizational Behavior and Development. She is tasked with recruiting students and assisting them in transitioning from high school to Wright College. Wright is a community college, the most students can get is an Associate’s degree. Students have the option to enter the workforce with different workforce programs or transfer to universities with our transfer options. Wright College has a focus in Information Technology and Engineering. Students in these programs can either start working upon completing some of these programs or transfer directly to universities into some of their Colleges of Engineering at various universities across the country.  

Paola Chavez

Paola Chavez is a transition coach with L@S GANAS at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She is a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and UIC graduate and always hoped to return to her alma mater to motivate students such as herself; first-generation, Latinx with big dreams for the future. At her current role with L@S GANAS, she works with high school and community college students to serve as a personal guide to the college/scholarship application process, financial aid, major/career selection, etc. Once at the university, L@S GANAS students receive guidance on navigating the university, help finding on/off campus opportunities, reminders about important deadlines, personal coaching on topics such as time management and more.

Keynote Speaker

Jo-Elle Mogerman

Jo-Elle Mogerman is a native Chicagoan who grew up with a love of animals, Mogerman applied that love to her academic pursuits, obtaining a B.A. in biology from Macalester College, an M.A. in conservation biology from the University of Minnesota and a Ph.D. in biology with a focus on foraging ecology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In addition, she is currently adjunct at DePaul University’s School of New Learning, teaching a course that engages students as citizen scientists.

Currently, she oversees the vision and strategic direction for all learning and community programs at Shedd Aquarium.  She brings extensive executive experience in informal education and community relations and is well-versed on topics related to the conservation and zoological community through nearly 14 years at Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo.

Mogerman has served as an Illinois Nature Preserves commissioner, chaired the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Diversity Committee and been a member of the Society for Diversity and the former Chicago Wilderness Executive Council. She has garnered more than 10 awards for the organizations, programs and projects under her lead.


Science Activities

Propagation 101: Learn general plant care tips and learn how to propagate your plants!

Luis Cabrales is a third year student studying Biology with a minor in Sustainable Cities, is a mentor with the L@S GANAS program, and also works at the UIC Greenhouse. His passion for the environment developed into something bigger than himself after working in the conservation field, starting the summer of 2015. Currently, Luis is working on organizing youth in his neighborhood to rally around problems such as the environmental injustices that the Southeast Side faces.


Cancer Workshop

The workshop gives a 30-minute introduction to cancer focused on risk factors, carcinogens, and the latest medical technological developments. There is a hands-on activity to practice common suturing techniques for surgeries to pair with a video on removing benign cancer tumors. Participants will suture a banana to gain experience on medical stitching.

Natalia Ongtengco is a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago studying neuroscience on the pre-medical track. She works as a tutor for biology and volunteers as a medical interpreter and teacher for STEM workshops.

Career Panel

Sarayu Ratnam

Sarayu Ratnam is a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology at Ann & Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Sarayu graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health in 2004 with a PhD in Human Genetics. She completed her post doctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago in the department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology. She stayed on as a basic research scientist for 6 years working on genes involved in early development, using cell lines and mouse model systems.

Sarayu moved to pediatric clinical research when she joined the division of Endocrinology in 2018. She works with many physicians on different research studies, including  studies on Type 1 Diabetes, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), Turners Syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome. Her role involves supporting physicians with various aspects of a clinical research study including recruitment, budgets, regulatory compliance and grant writing/submissions. She is also interested in ways to engage a more diverse community in various pediatric research studies currently available in the division of Endocrinology at Lurie Children’s.

Krystle Madden

Krystal Madden is a PhD student in Learning Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago and adjunct instructor of in life sciences at an Indiana community college. She holds a Master of Science degree in Comparative Pathobiology. As a part of her work, Krystal engaged in research on breast cancer in African American women and on cervical cancer. Following her work as laboratory-based research scientist, Krystal served as a high school science teacher.  She is also a former forensic serologist for the Indiana State Police Laboratory. Her love for science and for education prompted Krystal to embark on her latest endeavor to earn a PhD in Learning Sciences with a focus on science education. Her work pays special attention to the persistence of African American women in laboratory-based sciences. Krystal co-authored work that has been published in the fields of both laboratory-based sciences and in education. She has also presented research in both areas.

Leslie Martinez

Leslie Martinez is a junior at the University of Illinois at Chicago majoring in Biological Sciences.She is a first-generation college student with plans to pursue graduate school. And has recently joined  a lab for what her first hands-on research experience. When not studying, she is always looking for new coffee shops to try.

Parent Panel

Veronica Arreola

Veronica I. Arreola is the director for the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Latin@s Gaining Access to Networks for Advancement in Science program. Funded through a US Department of Education Hispanic Serving Institution STEM grant, L@s GANAS works to increase the number of Latinx-identified science students who excel at and graduate from UIC. L@s GANAS offers a number of initiatives including transition coaching, peer mentoring and a research fellowship. In her previous role as director of the UIC Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program, WISE was recognized with a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.

Arreola is a respected member of the local and national feminist community. Her writing has been featured in the New York Times, USA Today, and Bitch Media. She is a frequent speaker on all things feminist, especially education equity, reproductive justice, feminist parenting and social media. Media appearances include being highlighted in Ms. Magazine, an Emmy award winning feature on WGN-TV, and NBC Nightly News. Arreola is a regular guest on Vocalo’s “The Morning AMp.”

Arreola’s honors include being named Woman of the Year by the UIC Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women and a Chicago Foundation for Women’s Impact Award. A die-hard Chicago Cubs fan, Arreola lives on the north side of Chicago with her husband, daughter, and their two rescue dogs. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and a masters in Public Administration, both with concentrations in Gender and Women’s Studies.

Extracurricular Activities Talks [10 minutes each + 5 minutes for questions]


Girls Who Code is a nonprofit organization which aims to support and increase the number of women in computer science. The organization is working to close the gender gap in technology and change the image of what a programmer looks like and does. They have a 7-week Summer Immersion Program, a 2-week specialized Campus Program, after school Clubs, and a 13-book New York Times best-selling series. The aim is to inspire, educate, and equip young women with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities.

Adler Planetarium The Adler’s Teen Programs focus on providing technical and professional skills, mentorship, and a welcoming learning environment for Chicago high school students of all backgrounds, interests, and abilities. We offer internships, workshops, after-school programs, and more.

Boys & Girls Club of Chicago Brian Murphy will focus on experiments done with the Boys and Girls club of Chicago as part of the community center-based science outreach program. This section will highlight some experiments and teaching strategies that will help guardians in discussing science with their children.

Project Syncere provides a curriculum that integrates science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through the use of project-based learning.  Project SYNCERE’s staff assists and coaches students in scientific inquiry, directing them to deeper levels of understanding. These actions have helped students by raising their test scores, improving their critical thinking and problem solving skills and increasing their overall enthusiasm for school. Students use prior knowledge and technology to solve real world problems. Project SYNCERE is designed to serve students in grades 1-12.



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