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Dr. Helen Boylan Spends Winter Break Mentoring HS Students Across the Region

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Posted on Monday, February 5, 2018

Some professors go above and beyond their duties to demonstrate their passion for teaching and cultivating the minds of the next generation of scholars. In addition to their commitment to their students, some professors expand their reach beyond their classrooms and into the lives of the young people who make up surrounding communities. Professor of chemistry Dr. Helen Boylan is one of those professors. Boylan spent her Winter break sharing her talents and mentoring students across the area by participating in two different outreach opportunities.  

In December, Boylan served as one of 14 female presenters at “A GEM Affair: Girls Engaging Mentors” hosted by the Butler County Community College at Lawrence Crossings. GEM is a program coordinated by the Lawrence County School to Work Program with a mission to inspire young girls to pursue careers in STEM fields or other non-traditional pathways. Approximately 140 9th grade girls from Lawrence County participated in the event, with small groups rotating around the various mentor presentations.

“This was a great opportunity for female students to be exposed to a wide variety of careers and to meet women who can serve as role models," said Boylan. The panel consisted of women with careers as a software engineer, metallurgist, detective, judge, and pilot to name a few.

In addition to participating in GEM, Boylan also coordinated visits to the classroom of Sharpsville Area High School chemistry teacher and alumna Merrissa Nguyen '12. Boylan and Nguyen collaborated once more for the American Chemical Society (ACS) ambassadors program. Through the ambassador program, Boylan serves as a “science coach” and works with Nguyen to plan activities and connect classroom learning to the real world. Additionally, Nguyen’s school receives a $500 donation from ACS to support science education.

"The goal of the visit was to give the students an opportunity to perform a college-level lab and to address any concerns students had about applying to and/or going to college," added Boylan. 

During her visits with Nguyen’s chemistry classes, Boylan guided the high school students in a hands-on laboratory exercise on the separation of food dyes using column chromatography. Boylan and Nguyen are currently planning to bring the high school students to Westminster later this Spring to perform additional hands-on experiments using the equipment and facilities at the College.

For more information about her outreach efforts, contact Boylan at or 724-946-6293.