MCC WiSTEM Students to Stage Aquaculture Symposium

MANCHESTER, Conn. (May 21, 2019) – The Manchester Community College Women in STEM Learning Community, known as WiSTEM, is playing a major role in organizing an Aquaculture Environmental Learning Center (ELC) Symposium on Friday, June 7, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the MCC Student Services Center. The event is free and open to the public.

It will feature displays — set up in and around the cafeteria seating area — that focus on themes covering issues related to food, energy and water. The students’ goal is to explore environmental issues and do-it-yourself (DIY) food opportunities through the lens of aquaculture. The target audience includes students, local educators, researchers, farmers and the general public. Attendees can register at the door. For more information, visit

“The main purpose of the Aquaculture ELC Symposium is to talk about the importance of food and aquaculture in Connecticut specifically,” said Pema Sherpa, of Newington, student spokesperson for the event. “The focus is on how the environment is changing due to things like global warming, how that affects agricultural businesses and how people can get more involved.”

Also involved in organizing the symposium are Jennifer Blais, of Glastonbury; Rachel Olaechea, of South Windsor; Madison Beach, of Vernon; Julia Rossiter, of Manchester; Tuuli Mix, of Manchester; and Ana Cinxo, of South Windsor.

They were asked to serve on the planning committee by Biology Professor Rachel Mintell and STEM Academic Associate Jessica Zolciak, who co-ordinates the WiSTEM Learning Community, to give them additional exposure to fields they may choose to pursue upon graduation.

Staging the symposium is challenging and a lot of work, but worth it, according to Sherpa. “We split into three teams — logistics, design and planning, and communications,” she said. “We all communicate with each other over text and email to get everything done in our different areas.”

She added, “WiSTEM gives us a lot of good opportunities. I’ve made a lot of connections and had the opportunity to network in different areas of STEM. It’s not only about school either; I’ve learned how to be an adult, and I’ve grown a lot.”

Zolciak said, “WiSTEM gives women who are interested in STEM careers the opportunity to think about their long-term plans and goals. They can develop the tools they need to succeed in their academic goals and their future STEM careers.”

The event is sponsored by a grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

For more information on WiSTEM, contact Jessica Zolciak at