SJU Marks 10 Years Supporting Women in STEM
Thursday, October 18, 2018
by Jeffrey Martin '04, '05 (M.A.)
In 2009, Saint Joseph’s University and Anne Welsh McNulty both recognized an opportunity — that women were underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). They partnered to do something about it, developing the John P. McNulty Scholars Program.
For the past 10 years the program has provided full- and partial-tuition scholarships and a supportive environment to help young women succeed as leaders in the STEM professions.
Wednesday night was a chance to celebrate that decade anniversary, with a lively reception and lecture event, titled "Leading by Example: Trailblazing Women in STEM," at the Cardinal John P. Foley Campus Center. Anne Welsh McNulty and University President Mark C. Reed, Ed.D., were encouraging in their remarks.
"The students who began this program ten years ago were the pioneers," McNulty said. "Now it’s incumbent on you to be the pioneers in your fields. When you return with your advanced degrees to welcome future students, you will have touched far more lives than you realize, by living boldly, ethically, and by showing how to support one another."
The featured speaker was Amy Crockett, M.D., a maternal-fetal medicine physician from Greenville, South Carolina. She is the winner of the 2016 John P. McNulty Prize, a $100,000 grant that celebrates the impact of individuals who are using their exceptional leadership abilities, entrepreneurial spirit and private sector talents to address the world’s toughest challenges. Like SJU’s scholars program, the prize is named in honor of Anne Welsh McNulty’s late husband, John P. McNulty ‘74, a former SJU trustee and noted philanthropist who believed in supporting women and helping them reach their full potential.
SJU recently celebrated the first Ph.D. and M.D. recipients who started in the program. Those women can certainly relate to Crockett, who has spent her career addressing the problem of preterm birth in South Carolina, where, according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control, one out of every nine babies is born premature, placing it among the bottom 10 U.S. states.
In 2007, Crockett was the first doctor in the state to pilot a program called CenteringPregnancy. The model groups eight to 10 women who are due in the same month and provides a support system for them, facilitating discussion and introducing interactive activities designed to address important health topics like nutrition, stress management and infant care.
Since beginning the program, Crockett has recorded a reduction in premature birth among participants, especially those in high-risk groups.
“Many communities around me are young and single mothers with high rates of poverty and low levels of education,” Crockett says. “I have a personal passion to make sure that these women can have healthy pregnancies and easy deliveries.”
The support from the McNulty Foundation, which awards the prize, allowed Crockett to build the infrastructure to expand CenteringPregnancy to different sites around South Carolina.
“The support from the foundation goes beyond the prize,” Crockett says. “They recognized a good idea and pushed me to work harder on it.”
Crockett also says that mentorship — a critical part of SJU’s McNulty Scholars program — is a central part of her life as a doctor. She regularly leads medical students, residents, clinical teams and undergraduates as an associate professor at the University of South Carolina's Greenville Hospital System Medical Center. She relishes the chance to share her knowledge with SJU’s cohort of McNulty Scholars.
“This class is a special group to me,” she says. “In 10 years, they will be at the peak of their careers. If I can make an impact on them now, that would be something special.”