Keyri Sorto '25, Lehigh University Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE) major, accepted an invitation to attend a Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) Women in Chemical Engineering outreach event for undergraduate students and was quickly inspired by the people she met. 
“I was able to engage with students from universities across the country and held insightful conversations with BMS professionals regarding work-life choices, exciting projects at BMS, and their personal experiences in pursuing advanced chemical engineering degrees” says Sorto. 
This program at BMS, which started in 2015, invites women undergraduate students to visit for a day and meet with women chemical engineers at BMS to encourage the next generation of STEM female scientists. Students are provided with a seminar on chemical engineering duties in the pharmaceutical industry, a tour of the New Brunswick, NJ lab/plants on-site, a panel discussion, and opportunities for networking discussions between students and the BMS engineers.
There is no one path to finding a passion for science. For many girls and women, however, that path can turn into a mountainous climb. A prior Census Bureau American Community Survey indicated, women fill about half of all U.S. jobs, but merely hold just 24 percent of jobs in the so-called STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Companies such as BMS have been planting STEM seeds along the way to have more girls consider STEM careers and put supportive programs into motion to develop, retain, and advance women. 
The Hispanic Scholarship Fund empowered Sorto – a first generation Latina – to continue pursuing her curiosity in the sciences, which began early on in a high school AP chemistry class. “I am a very curious student who likes to find creative solutions to problems. The concept of creating mathematical models, designing processes, and scaling up systems is what interested me most.” When it came time to declare a college major, the decision was easy – chemical engineering. The programs’ complexity and wide industry span were inevitably attractive to Sorto, who was seeking a field that would offer a diverse and self-challenging career path. 
Similar STEM company strategies are also in place at Lehigh, where Sorto is a scholar of the Lehigh Greer Program which aided the University in earning the 2020 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, to help mitigate additional financial barriers and provide a support network for African American and Hispanic students pursuing engineering studies at Lehigh. Since inception, these programs have opened a multitude of new opportunities and connections for the Lehigh engineering community. 
The BMS event not only provided Sorto with an invaluable experience, but also allowed her to connect one on one with BMS employee and Lehigh ChBE alumnus, Nan Wu ’21, who offered a unique perspective on her role at the company and how her Lehigh research and experiences had well equipped her to manage challenges within her position.
By the conclusion of the day’s agenda, Sorto left “with a heightened sense of confidence in [her] chosen career path and a deepened sense of belonging and pride to be a woman in STEM”.
She looks forward to graduating in 2025 and applying her real-life science skillset for the benefit of humankind.

Undergraduate Student
Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering