Remarks for the Girls’ Day 2015 Event at GE Facility in Veresegyház

Ambassador Bell with the participants of the event (Embassy photo by Attila Németh)
Ambassador Bell with the participants of the event.

Good morning.  I am excited to be with you this morning.  I would like to thank Gergő Lencsés, the General Manager, and his team at this GE facility for hosting us today.  I am proud of the fact that GE is one of eight U.S. companies in Hungary hosting 400 young women today during the 4th annual Girls’ Day.

I am also grateful to the Association of Hungarian Women in Science and congratulate its President, Dr. Dóra Groó, and Executive Director, Beáta Szoboszlai, for establishing this event four years ago.   They started with a program for fifty young women and today host two thousand students in over sixty companies, institutions, and universities in twelve cities in Hungary.  Their hard work and dedication have made this day a success, and I am happy to be here to support them and all of you.

Today is “Take your child to work day” in the United States, which is why my daughter Charlotte is with me.  I am looking forward to sharing this day with my daughter and with all of you.  There are so many opportunities today for young women not only as a result of advances through innovation, but also, and more importantly, as a result of breaking down barriers and stereotypes.  We all owe a debt of gratitude to the women pioneers who came before us and paved the way to expand our choices and possibilities.

One such pioneer was Mária Telkes.  Maria was born in Budapest and moved to the United States after completing her PhD in physical chemistry.  She spent 14 years researching solar energy at MIT and designed the first solar heating system.  She is considered one of the founders of solar thermal energy and storage systems.

Another pioneer was Erzsébet Kol, who was a botanist by training.  Erzsébet was also born in Hungary, but moved to the United States to continue her research on glaciers and algae found in snow at higher elevations.  In 1936-37, she received a fellowship from the American Association of University Women.  This fellowship allowed her to travel to the most remote destinations and amass, at that time, one of the largest collections of snow algae.

The American Association of University Women has been working to empower women since 1881, not just in the United States, but also around the world, including here in Hungary.  Last year, they announced a new collaboration with Alcoa in Hungary to support Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education and opportunities for local young women.

I hope these opportunities and examples will help inspire you to dream big and strive for great accomplishments in whatever you chose as your passion in life.  Don’t limit your possibilities and always be open to opportunities that might come your way.  I am here today because I had the opportunity in 2006 to meet and discuss one of my passions – combatting climate change – with a remarkable and inspirational person, who later went on to become the President of the United States.

I wish you a productive day and continued success in school and your activities as leaders and pioneers of your generation.

Thank you.