Seniors strive to break gender barriers in STEM fields


Kelly Haggerty '23

Five Sacred Heart seniors will pursue college degrees in STEM subjects.

In the pursuit of degrees in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) field, five Sacred Heart Greenwich seniors plan to take their skills beyond the Sacred Heart laboratories and to their respective colleges in the fall.  Seniors Emma Rose Connolly, Hanke Govaert, Isabella (Izzy) Lippolis, Mia López del Punta, and Sasha Rivera will start on the path to careers in this male-dominated field. 

Hanke is attending Cornell University and will major in Biochemistry.  Hanke comes from STEM-oriented family as both her father and brother studied physics.  Many members of her extended family also currently work in the medical field.  Hanke expressed her excitement about her upcoming college years as she will play for the University’s field hockey team in addition to her studies.

Hanke Govaert ’21 signed her National Letter of Intent December 9 to play field hockey at Cornell University.  Kelly Haggerty ’23

“I am looking forward to learning more about Biochemistry, meeting like-minded people, and exploring the research institutions and many opportunities that Cornell has to offer,” Hanke said.  “I’m a bit nervous to see how the time management and workload will be as I will be playing field hockey at Cornell but am excited nonetheless.”

Due to her interest in natural sciences, Mia chose to study Biology at Boston University.  She also plans to minor in Psychology and study on a pre-med track.  This year, Mia is taking Anatomy and Physiology and Psychology courses in hopes of learning more about which specific career path she wants to pursue.

Women are largely outnumbered in STEM fields compared to men, specifically in jobs such as biological scientists, engineers, architects, and chemists, according to  In addition to the gaps between the number of men and women in STEM occupations, there is also a difference in salaries divided across gender and racial lines.  Men make about $15,000 more per year than white women, and about $33,000 more than Latina and Black women.

Izzy, who will attend Bucknell University in the fall, plans to major in Chemistry.  Izzy credits the two Chemistry courses she took during her sophomore and senior years at Sacred Heart for sparking her interest in the subject.  This upcoming summer, Izzy plans to conduct lab research at the Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, New York.  She will bring the knowledge she obtained through the numerous chemistry labs at Sacred Heart into an outside environment.  Izzy explained why she chose to major in Chemistry after her experience at Sacred Heart. 

“After first being introduced to Chemistry sophomore year, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue,” Izzy said.  “Similarly, after taking AP Chemistry this year, I knew this is what I wanted to major in and something I would want to continue with in college.  Sacred Heart gave me the opportunity to discover something I loved.”

Women are largely outnumbered in STEM occupations.  Courtesy of

Due to her fascination with the environment and desire to make a change in the world, Emma Rose is planning to major in Environmental Engineering at Cornell University next year.  After college, Emma Rose hopes to work in the renewable energy industry to help reduce the world’s carbon footprint.  Emma Rose is eager to conduct research in the field of environmental engineering, as well as meet others who share an interest in helping the world’s climate crisis.

Sasha will attend Princeton University this upcoming fall and currently plans to major in Neuroscience.  The flexible nature of the Neuroscience program at Princeton is what drew Sasha to the subject, as it incorporates other fields as well, such as psychology, biology, math, and computer science.  Sasha also plans to minor in a foreign language and discussed how her love for languages helped her choose her major.

“This may seem unrelated, but my passion for languages—speaking English and Spanish at home and learning Arabic and Chinese at school—has contributed to my decision to major in Neuroscience,” Sasha said.  “With language and culture learning, you learn a lot about human behavior and mental processes, both of which stem from the brain.”

Featured Image by Kelly Haggerty ’23