MANY students across the North are being faced with the tough decision of choosing what subjects to study for their A-Level examinations in the next academic year.
One local woman, Bernie Collins from Maguiresbridge, is encouraging young females to broaden their horizons and to not rule out the STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] subjects when planning their academic future – as it put her on the road to success.
After graduating from Queens University in Belfast, the Fermanagh engineer forged a career in motorsport and Formula One.
She worked in the sport for 15 years, rising to becoming the ‘Head of Race Strategy’ at F1 giant Aston Martin. After ‘a hectic’ 2022 season,
Bernie stepped down from her position. She is now focusing on growing the sport through grassroots levels in schools and community groups throughout the UK.
“I’ve decided to take a bit of a break, a bit of time to try something new, but I’m still very much involved [in the sport],” she told The Lynette Fay Show.
“I’m trying to promote, or at least explain, about strategy to people who are watching from home, so I’m doing a bit of work with Formula One and Sky.
“I am doing a bit of work with engineering, females and STEM stuff, a bit of freelance stuff here and there.”
Formula One is very much a male-dominated sport, but Bernie hopes that more young females will follow her footsteps and forge a career in motorsport.
“Thankfully there is a more importance on the STEM subjects which is very important.” she said.
“You remember why it is special and why so many don’t get to experience that and why so many fans would give everything to be in the paddock for a race, let alone every race. It definitely does feel special, but it is only on those moments of reflection that you realise how special it is.”
The Queens University graduate believed younger girls are now seeing the STEM subjects in a positive light and are making those choices when they are younger.
“When I went to Mount Lourdes and asked about engineering, it was brushed over. I think that has improved over the years and the standard coming through and females deciding that they want to do engineering as a degree, that has got more even now,” she said.
“Before, it was that if you were bright and you were a girl, you were going to become a doctor or a dentist and the engineering one was brushed to one side.”
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