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Dr. Prisco's UN Remarks International Day of Women and Girls in Science

February 10, 2017

Good afternoon your excellencies, distinguished guests, and colleagues. And especially our students, professors and deans from Felician University!

Your highness, I thank you so much for your kind invitation to participate in this very important conference, highlighting the role of women in science.

I must admit I did not travel far to be here –I am a native New Yorker and so want to welcome you all and hope you are enjoying my hometown! maybe even got to throw a snowball or take a walk in the snow coated serenity of Central Park!

As the child of an Italian immigrant growing up in Brooklyn, I was the first in my family to attend college…I am an example of the American Dream – education is the passport to a better life. My father, a construction worker, mantra to my brother and I was...  ”go to school; work with your brain, not your back.”

 I found Science and Math particularly COOL – solving a math equation, struggling in calculus between integration and differentiation – I always preferred integration… and the beauty of discovering in biology and chemistry classes how our bodies work, how trees grow, and the awesome ability of scientists to battle illness and improve the quality of life and our environment.

I love education – and I have really never left school… As we all know - EDUCATION IS THE KEY…

As stated in Sustainable Development Goal 4 – to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all – this is my life’s work…currently,


Felician University - located in NJ - just about 10 miles west of here - was founded by the Felician sisters - a religious order from Poland - and we are celebrating our 75th anniversary this year.

We began as a women’s college in 1942, recognizing the importance of education to elevate and support women and in turn society.

Sustainable Development Goal 5 – Achieve gender equality for all women and girls is our foundation…

Today, we are proud of our diverse students – welcoming men and women from all walks of life – who pursue studies across Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Nursing, 72 percent of our students are women – we at Felician take very seriously our job to create opportunities and a brighter future for all, especially women.

Our job as educators is to provide opportunity, support and positive examples to encourage students who demonstrate an aptitude and interest in one of the STEM fields.

Felician does this through mentoring programs, student research projects, and  internship opportunities with industry partners – all aimed at encouraging students to be successful in school and, ultimately, in a career and in their communities.

Felician’s female students are conducting research on the MRSA virus, various staph infections, cell migration and cancer.

At Felician’s School of Nursing:
  • We are in the forefront of sweeping changes in healthcare,
  • new treatment modalities and technological advances,
  • and our students get hands on learning in a state-of-the-art nursing resource center that provides them with the most technologically-advanced training.

With the support of a National Science Foundation grant, we are establishing a center for academic excellence in information assurance/cyber defense. Cyber security is a critical need in these times of almost daily threats. It is an outstanding opportunity for women in science to excel and make a difference in the world condition.

Education is the great equalizer.

Our Felician graduates are pursuing careers in medicine, biochemistry, pharmacy, molecular and cellular biology, and the FBI - just to name a few.

Felician is also honored to be the new academic home base of Her Royal Highness Princess Nisreen El-Hashemite, and The Royal Academy of Science International Trust. Your presence on our campus will further increase diversity by attracting international scholars and provide inspiration to young women who will want to follow in your footsteps and establish a career in science.

Lastly, I would like to take a moment to comment on the evolution of STEM to STEAM. Adding the arts and studies in areas such as communication and media inspires STEM students to think in innovative and creative ways. Indeed Her Royal Highness and I have enjoyed conversations ranging from science to art, economics to music and religion and of course, politics and food!

Felician and RASIT also both have a longstanding commitment to social justice.  

Felician is one of a handful of universities with NGO status. Every year a group of students engage as UN Fellows where they are challenged to come up with viable solutions to real world challenges.

We are also actively engaged on campus to address issues and raise awareness of Violence Against Women in collaboration with our local police and county agencies.

There is so much we know---and so much more yet to be discovered!

The American Association of University Women asks us to:

Imagine a world without cellphones, tablets and Twitter. Hard to do, isn't it? Fact is, the pace of innovation has never been quicker. Technological advances almost seem commonplace.

And only the people who dare to dream big -

many of whom work in STEM-related industries -

have any idea of what might come next. 

Andra Keay, managing director, Silicon Valley Robotics challenges us:

"Ask what do you want now, to free yourself from thinking about the limitations of the technology and let your imagination take you to what things do you want to have done, what problems do you want to solve."

Let’s unleash that imaginative power!

Thank you so much for your invitation today and for the commitment to supporting girls and women to discover the awesome power of science.