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2018 Transportation YOU DC Youth Summit Concludes


Check out the highlights from the 2018 Transportation YOU Summit! 


2018 Transportation YOU DC Youth Summit

By Jasmy Methipara



Transportation YOU culminated its 2017-2018 school year by sending one young woman from Dunbar High School’s Charles Drew STEM Academy to the WTS Transportation YOU DC Youth Summit here in Washington, DC from June 20th-June 24th. This annual conference is designed to introduce, inspire, and guide young women from across the country toward a college future in STEM studies (science, technology, engineering, and math) and a career in the transportation industry. Committee Deputy Chair, Margaret-Avis Akofio-Sowah accompanied Jakaria Lynch, a rising senior, to the 5-day Summit with 21 mentor-mentee pairs from other WTS Transportation YOU chapters across the country.



WTS-DC strongly represented Summit leadership with Transportation YOU Chair Jasmy Methipara acting as the 2018 Summit steering committee chair and Britton Hammit as co-chair.  Former 2016 Summit mentee and WTS-DC Committee member Kyla D’Sa also served on the steering committee as the George Washington University lead.

On Wednesday, June 20th, Summit leadership welcomed the 22 mentor-mentee pairs with a welcome dinner and a mission statement workshop led by Felicia Boyd of the Federal Aviation Administration. The following day kicked off at the U.S. Department of Transportation. An executive panel composed of Acting FHWA Administrator Brandye Hendrickson and Acting FTA Administrator Jane Williams welcomed the Summit attendees and engaged in some Q&A.



Next, the young women were given a glimpse into each of the different modes of transportation.  Jasmy Methipara of FHWA facilitated a panel of six representatives from various modes who discussed the unique paths they took to their transportation careers.  The speakers included Agnes Velez (FHWA), LaToya Johnson (FHWA), Ahuva Battams (PHMSA), Amanda Rutherford (MARAD), Joanne Waszczak (FTA), and Stacey Zee (FAA). Marianne McInerney also joined from the Office of the Secretary.  The panel discussion ended with some networking and a “Getting to Know the Modes” Catch Phrase game which tested the girls’ knowledge of the various modes.



The group then headed toward the Dirkson Senate Building via DC Circulator through coordination with Circe Toruellas of DDOT.



After lunch at Dirkson South Buffet, the group headed toward the Russell Building’s Hearing Room for the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation to listen to a panel of Congressional Staffers. Rebecca Higgins, Adrian Arnakis and Jen Deci discussed their individual paths to Capitol Hill and the various challenges they’ve encountered along the way.



Just around the corner, the Summit group took a tour of the Capitol Building and then headed to Union Station for dinner and a discussion with Rachel Lesniak of the Circulator.  The evening ended with another Circulator ride to the National Mall for a Transportation Style Amazing Race brought to life by fifteen volunteers. The mentees were broken up into small groups to navigate the Monuments and answer clues to lead them from one station to the next. Prizes were awarded for points earned at each station.



Friday’s events began with a panel of women who work in various roles at Reagan National Airport: Margaret McKeough, Heidi Sim, Monica R. Hargrove, and Danielle Morgan. This was followed by a tour of the Traffic Operations room and the Airport Firehouse.  



After a working lunch in FHWA’s Innovation Lab, the group toured various research labs at FHWA Turner Fairbank Highway Research Center including the Human Factors Driving Simulator Laboratory, Federal Outdoor Impact Laboratory, Virtual Reality Safety Laboratory, Concrete Laboratory, and Saxon Operations Laboratory. The director of Turner-Fairbank, Hari Kala, welcomed the group and leaders from multiple departments shared their individual stories with the participants.


Friday night ended on a relaxing note with a dinner boat cruise along the Potomac departing from the Georgetown Waterfront.


In preparation for their Challenge Project presentations, the mentees began their Saturday morning with a lesson on Public Speaking from Marcy Schwab. This was followed by a campus tour of George Washington University by Isabella Evangelista.  Kyla D’Sa then led a tour of the transportation research facilities.



After the mentees finished preparing their presentations, they engaged in a career networking lunch with the mentors of the group. The mentors divided themselves up by discipline and answered questions for the mentees who expressed interest in each of the different fields of transportation.  Guided by Holland Maye Aguayo of the University of Memphis, the students presented their challenge projects in teams of 4 to 5 to the entire group, discussing how best to apply Safe Routes to School practices in various schools across the country. Professor Kim Roddis also shared details about the civil engineering program at GWU to the young ladies.



The afternoon at GWU ended with a college panel in which Kyla D’Sa and four other college students shared their experiences and answered questions from the mentees. Saturday culminated with a formal banquet dinner at the Darlington House in Dupont Circle where the students were presented with certificates of participation by Summit leadership. Atkins provided some scholarships and also sent Roxanne Feige and Jaravette Velez Cuadrado  as representatives to talk with the young ladies about their experience.



The 2018 Transportation YOU DC Youth Summit concluded on Sunday June 24th with a special presentation from Bryna Helfer, who encouraged the group to stay connected and remember all the special events they participated in during their 5 day DC adventure.



To round up her experience, DC mentee Jakaria Lynch will give a presentation at the September WTS-DC Executive Board meeting discussing her time at the Summit and the lessons she learned.  


Here’s a video summary of the 2018 Summit: https://youtu.be/xnuE7Jrbjow


WTS Foundation extends special thanks to Summit supporters Atkins and Lea+Elliott, without whom the Transportation YOU DC Summit would not have been accessible to many of the 2018 program participants. Special thanks to the following organizations and volunteers for their involvement in the 2018 DC Summit:

U.S. Department of Transportation

Senate Transportation Committee members

DDOT Circulator

Reagan National Airport

Turner Fairbank Highway Research Center

George Washington University

University of Memphis

Marcy Schwab, Inspired Leadership, LLC

Bryna Helfer, Arlington County

Amazing Race: Kyla D’Sa, Arianna Koudounas, Neela Babu, Mehdi Zamanipour, Chrissie Sherman, Rachel James, Ian Murray, Roxanne Feige, Joe Vincent, Kate Burkett, Joshua Wolfgram, Abigail Wolfgram, Betsy Godfrey, Blake Barnes-Cook, and Marissa Kunerth.

College Panel: Kyla D’Sa, Rachel James, Kayla Tarr, Isabella Evangelista, Elena Studier

Steering Committee: Jasmy Methipara (chair), Britton Hammit (co-chair), Kyla D’Sa, Sonali Shah, Faye Majekodunmi, Laurie Cullen, Holland Maye Aguayo, Charlotte Frei, Elizabeth Patel, Felicia Boyd, Sonali Shah, Karen Good, Maggie Walsh





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