STEM Ambassadors

We talk to two Samworth Brothers STEM ambassadors, Sarah Denham and Hannah Pritchard from Westward Laboratories.

Posted in Community

Samworth Brothers has a number of STEM ambassadors around the Group. They volunteer to work with young people to encourage them to take up Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics skills through events such as careers fairs and school visits. We talk to two ambassadors, Sarah Denham and Hannah Pritchard.

How do you become a registered STEM ambassador?

We first heard about STEM Network from one of their co-ordinators at an awards presentation for an apprentice we had at the lab.  We initially signed up online and then attended an induction evening at a local Uni where we learned about what is expected of us as STEM ambassadors and how to present what we want to pass on in the correct way to the children we will be working with.

What does being a STEM ambassador for the Group involve?  

We promote our field by showing how the science that is learned in school can be put in practice in the real world. The aim is to inspire young people to seek careers in STEM sectors.

What kind of Women in STEM events do you attend?  

We have attended a Women In STEM event at the UTC in Plymouth; Skills for Cornwall Career Day at the Royal Cornwall Show Ground; and an Open Evening here at the Lab for the local Young Farmers Group. We also do school visits where we do a presentation and let the children take part in environmental swabbing practicals. We show the children what has grown after we have cultured them, to encourage good hygiene. It’s really rewarding to meet young people and encourage them to become the next generation of microbiologists.
STEM Ambassadors
Why do you think women make up only 13% of those employed in STEM industries in the UK?  

We think that STEM jobs are historically seen as male dominated industries although at Westward Laboratories we flip that trend as we are about 50/50 on the male to female ratio. 

What kind of STEM career opportunities are there throughout Samworth Brothers? 

At Westward Laboratories we offer full on the job training in food microbiology, so lab work learned at school can be put into practice and you can see how the work we do helps to protect the public.

What has been your own path to taking up a career in science and technology?  

Sarah: I went to University in Plymouth and gained a 2:1 BSC (Hons) Biological Sciences. I’ve always loved lab work so I applied to join Westward Laboratories in 2000 after graduating.  I started as a Lab Analyst and have now progressed to a Senior Analyst.  I have also covered the roles of Microbiology Manager (when a colleague went on maternity leave) and Quality Control Microbiologist.

Hannah: I’m a Lab Analyst, having joined the company seven years ago straight from school. At the time, I didn’t have any science qualifications and have received all my training in-house. This has included phase training in all areas of the lab house and an NVQ Level 2 in Laboratory and Associated Technical Activities. I’m currently working towards a Level 2 ILM qualification in team leading.