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Everyday Hero: Local woman helps girls make real world connections to STEM

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Posted at 6:13 PM, Mar 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-19 14:16:11-04

Virginia Beach, Va. - A trip to the dentist at Cusp Dental Boutique in Virginia Beach, but this isn't for a checkup.

This tour is part of a special STEM program and Dr. Zaneta Hamlin is leading the way showing off some of the technology used at her dental practice.

"This helps set or cure or harden are filling material. You just shine the light on the tooth," Dr. Hamlin said.

This is all a part of the Butterfly Village She Can STEM Academy. The founder is Katina Barnes.

"It came about... I had a vision to start a non-profit— I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my purpose is to empower women," Barnes said. "I just begin getting all these visions about me, butterflies--so butterflies are about transformation, right? And that's what the village is all about, making a transformation in the lives of women and girls."

Part of that academy involves field trips to various businesses tied to science, technology, engineering and math.

Andrea Long is a Butterfly Village board member and speaks about why this program is needed in addition to STEM classes in our schools.

"It's great that it's in the classroom but what it doesn't do is really allow young women, particularly young women of color to see themselves actually activating in the areas of STEM, to be able to see the scientist and see the engineers and see the mathematicians in real time, and to see themselves," Long says.

Dr. Zaneta Hamlin is honored to help make that connection, "And so Katina is doing something extremely amazing and to help our girls and see themselves, help them aspire and help them to dream, because sometimes they're not afforded that."

Barnes says she knows her Butterfly Village is needed and enjoys seeing girls on field trips connecting the dots.

"It makes me feel really good, because I know if I had this experience as a young girl, I would not have been afraid of science, and afraid of math. I would've taken higher level math and science courses," she said.

For all that Barnes is doing, News 3 presented her with an Everyday Hero award, along with a $300 Visa gift card from our community partner Southern Bank.

Barnes was shocked, "Oh my gosh! Thank you very much! This is so not why we do it all, but thank you!

If you'd like more information on the Butterfly Village STEM programs, click here: Butterfly Village