The keynote speaker for the 16th annual Girls in the Middle Conference themed Diamonds in the Rough will be Luisa Graff, gemologist and owner of Luisa Graff Jewelers. The conference will be held March 1 at Otero Junior College.

The keynote speaker for the 16th annual Girls in the Middle Conference themed Diamonds in the Rough will be Luisa Graff, gemologist and owner of Luisa Graff Jewelers. The conference will be held March 1 at Otero Junior College.

Graff will open the conference by sharing her story of overcoming adversity, discussing her studies in gemology/Earth science and highlighting how both contributed to her successful business. Graff attended Claremont McKenna College and was the first female graduate of the Gemological Institute of America. The story of a self-made woman will inspire other young women that hard work, determination and an education can make all the difference.

The goal of the Girls in the Middle Conference is to encourage middle school girls to continue to study math, science and technology as they enter high school. This year over 200 middle school girls have registered from area school districts.

The Girls in the Middle conference provides an opportunity for girls to meet women who are working professionals in careers that require an educational background in math, science and technology, and to experience hands-on activities associated with those careers. A variety of workshops are planned for the morning as well as an afternoon workshop featuring team-building activities.

Workshop presenters for the Girls in the Middle Conference this year include:

· Agriculture Science, Ginger Davidson, Palmer Land Trust
· Behavioral Health, Sara Voigts, Southwest Health Group
· Civil Engineering, Jenny Trujillo, Metro Wastewater Reclamation
· Crime Scene Investigation, Yolanda Jaramillo, Otero Junior College
· Digital Media, Jenn Hall, Kristin Elise and Joumana Witt, Colorado Technical University
· Engineering, Abby Hickman, Colorado School of Mines
· Emergency Room Nursing, Dena Corte and Adena Ross, AVRMC Emergency Department
· Human Biology, Lisa Gallegos, Otero Junior College
· Information Technology, Carol Keene and Liz Peralez, Viatech Consulting
· Medical Lab Technician, Cathy Bollacker and Angela Tarrant, Otero Junior College
· Nursing Laboratory Simulation, Diane McElroy and Christie Jackson, Otero Junior College
· Occupational Therapy Assistant/Physical Therapy Assistant, Bethany Grap, AVRMC and Megan Hancock, Mountain Creek Home Health
· Physician, Dr. Angela Fryer, Valley-Wide Health Systems
· Physics, Kimberly De La Harpe and Casey Davenport, United States Air Force Academy
· Robotic Arms, Carla Hendrickson, Pueblo Chemical Stockpile Outreach
· Statistics in Engineering, Cheryl Reeves, Otero Junior College and Jessica Reeves, Trane
· Surgical Technology, Vanessa Benevidez and Tiffany Howe, Colorado Technical University
· Veterinary Science, Dale Davis, Leah Meister and Cindy Parker, TLC Veterinary Clinic
· Wildlife Biology, Karen Downey and Debbie Schibbelhut, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.