#ThankYourMentor – National Mentoring Month: My Science Mentoring Story

Happy New Year and Happy National Mentoring Month. Throughout the month we have seen posts, Tweets and stories about the importance of mentoring. This is why The National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health started National Mentoring Month back in 2002. National Mentoring Month focuses national attention on the need for mentors to ensure positive effect in young people. 1 in 3 young people will grow up without a mentor. Mentoring makes a difference, especially for underrepresented students who are interested in STEM fields. When students have science mentors it gives them the opportunity to learn about different science career options and build a positive support system.

Since today is the last event of National Mentoring Month (#ThankYourMentor day) what better time to share how mentoring has made an impact on my science journey. I believe in the impact of mentors and encourage you to mentor someone new. In honor of #ThankYourMentor day I am going to share a few of my mentoring experiences.

As I mentioned in my Mentoring Series, mentoring at all stages is essential for students in the STEM fields, especially underrepresented minority students.  Continue reading #ThankYourMentor – National Mentoring Month: My Science Mentoring Story

A Bit More About Mademoiselle Scientist + The Importance of Having a Science Community

This month I celebrated my 4th Blog Anniversary and I decided it was a great time for me to share a bit more me and why I started Mademoiselle Scientist . My name is Martina and I am a toxicologist, science communicator, and STEM education advocate. I started Mademoiselle Scientist as a way to share my journey as a woman in STEM and support the next generation of scientists. I am passionate about all things STEM: research, mentoring, education and outreach. I want to help scientists succeed, students excel and share information that I have learned along my journey. I see myself as a mentor sharing advice I wish I would have known when I was getting started in STEM.

Early in my journey, there were not many resources like we have today. I remember taking a Minorities in STEM Freshman Seminar Class at Penn State and that was the first time I saw a large group of students who looked like me that were aspiring scientists and engineers. A few years later I found myself surrounded by even more scientists and engineers at the National Society of Black Engineers National Convention. Now I am seeing an increasing number of scientists and engineers who are in leadership roles in higher education, science policy, research and science communication that as a freshman I did not see.

It is incredible to see science, education and research change, but it is also amazing that I have this platform. When I started my Mademoiselle Scientist I did not think that my experiences, the information I learned along the way and resources would turn into a science community. I just wanted a way to help scientists, especially college and underrepresented students learn that they too can become scientists and engineers.

Every day the science community is growing. When I started Mademoiselle Scientist there were only a few blogs out there. Out of the few blogs, I read there were not many blogs that shared information to help scientists, college students and those thinking about graduate school. Also, I did not see many blogs run by minorities or women in STEM. Today there is a platform for everyone.

A Few of My Favorite Blogs in the Science Community: Continue reading A Bit More About Mademoiselle Scientist + The Importance of Having a Science Community

Black History Month Edition: My Experiences Participating in Research Training, Mentoring Programs & Science Organizations

In honor of Black History Month I was inspired to share my experiences participating in research training, mentoring programs and science organizations. I am grateful for all of my experiences and mentors that helped me become the woman in science that I am today. Coming from an inner city neighborhood and entering a big rural state university was like a dream. My main goal was to get a great education and learn as much as possible to prepare for a STEM career. Everything after that was an added bonus. I joined science organizations and reached out to science peers for support. For the first time I was able to see people in STEM that looked like me and I was determined to use the many resources that my university offered.

I participated in science programs such as the Women and Science and Engineering Orientation and the Minority Undergraduate Research Experience Program. These programs taught me the importance of leadership and strong mentoring.  I gained research experience, scientific knowledge and confidence that I could pursue a science career. This inspired me to use my science background not only to include research but include helping other scientists, especially underrepresented groups.

I encourage everyone to seek mentoring, the earlier the better. If you are looking for science mentors check out research training programs, mentoring programs and science organizations. There is a mentor for everyone. As a Gates Millennium Scholar (GMS) later I went on to become a mentor in the GMS program. Then when I entered graduate school I served on the Graduate Student Association to help first-year graduate students transition.

I am passionate about helping the next generations of scientists. STEM is challenging and fun, but rewarding. At times in the midst of progress I was faced with moments of negativity. There were people who told me that I did not belong and that I would not achieve my goals. I did not let their negativity stop me. I’m sure most of us have experienced negativity or felt alone in science at one point. Don’t let that stop you. Keep moving forward, pave the way and soon there will be others like you in your career. Continue reading Black History Month Edition: My Experiences Participating in Research Training, Mentoring Programs & Science Organizations

Different Types of Mentors and My Mentoring Experiences

In my last blog post I shared how self-mentoring and understanding what you need in a mentor is the first step when finding a mentor. One of my first mentors was my aunt who is an electrical engineer and she gave me so much insight on my career. In high school I had a mentor that took me under her wing and helped me work on my Gates Millennium Scholarship (GMS) Application. I was so happy when I found out I got the GMS Scholarship, especially after opening a rejection letter from my dream college. These are just two examples of how mentors played a role in my life and I am grateful that they were my mentors. Fast forward years later one of my professors told me that I will need different types of mentors.

Different Types of Mentors: Continue reading Different Types of Mentors and My Mentoring Experiences

Self-Mentoring and Understanding What you Want in a Mentor

Welcome to my preview of my mentoring series. Now that the season is warming up it is a good time to attend social events on campus to network and be a part of the community to scope out potential mentors. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you do not find a mentor right away because it takes time. Throughout my journey as a woman in STEM I had many types of mentors and have learned a lot from my mentoring experiences. Mentoring like any relationship – it is a partnership and commitment.

Self-Mentoring and Understanding What you Want in a Mentor:

1. Update myIDP tool:
The myIDP tool helps you stay organized, reevaluate and update your goals. When you update the myIDP tool you will be able to see what things you need to talk to a mentor about and what things you need to reflect on before making the next move.

2. Use your resources:
There are many resources available and many of them are free. Use the internet as a resource to find what you want in a mentor. Find articles, blogs, like The Thesis Whisperer and Tenure, She Wrote) and people (Dr. Amy Freeman, Dr. Monica Cox and Dr. Renetta Tull) who are doing what you would like to do. This is a great way to find out what career pathways you want to explore. If you are looking for a good book check out my recommended books on my useful book list and seasonal reading lists.

3. Remember your role:
When you self-mentor you are playing a double role. You are a mentor and you are a mentee. Think about the strong points you want in a mentor and focus on using these points as a way to self-mentor. This will help you be a better mentor to others and help you find the right mentor. Continue reading Self-Mentoring and Understanding What you Want in a Mentor

Superwoman: Achieving Work-Life Balance

As many women agree, society can put pressure to do it all – to be a superwoman. Sometimes we might want to do it all, but then there are times we cannot. That is okay because we are human and we all need balance. Whether it is a “yes” or a “no”, establishing boundaries, knowing your limits and expressing yourself is key. “No” is a complete sentence that needs no explanation and it is not being rude. Do not fall trap of being voluntold. A superwoman asserts herself and is confident. If you want to learn more about being more assertive in the workplace check out the book, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office by Lois P. Frankel.

Besides this Lois P. Frankel’s book I recommend reading Dr. Amy Freeman’s book about work-life balance, Stress Less: 10 Balancing Insights on Work and Life. I did a Mademoiselle Spotlight on her last year and talked about how she is an inspiration to me as an Black Woman in STEM. She is a wonderful mentor and in her book I learned so many things about how I can achieve work-life balance. Continue reading Superwoman: Achieving Work-Life Balance

10 Gift Ideas for Scientists II:

Looking for a science gift idea? What do you give to the scientist or engineer that seems to have it all? Will they like it? Will it be cool enough? You will find a gift here for every scientist on your list with a great mix of quirky and practical.

10 Gift Ideas for Scientists II:

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1. Books:

Stress Less: 10 Balancing Insights on Work and Life by Amy Freeman, Ph.D. and the Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome & How to Thrive in Spite of it by Valerie Young. I read these books recently and I would highly recommend them to any women who wants to be successful in her career or life in general. Books are always a great gift and I always look forward to adding a good book to my collection.

2. Erin Condren Life Planner:

If the scientist in your life has a busy schedule and prefers a paper planner instead of electronic get them a planner. Recently I’ve been hearing a lot about the Erin Condren Planner so I decided to add it to the list. The planner has a lot of space for writing notes and add items throughout the day. If your recipient is looking to go further in planning consider customizing the planner.

3. Elemental, Spice Rack Set:

This is such a fun, but quirky science-themed gift for the scientist in your life that loves to cook. Plus it will add a bit of science charm to their kitchen.

4. S’well Bottle:

No matter what a drinking bottle that will keep your drinks cold or hot will never go out of style. I like the metallic ones. This bottle will keep your morning cup of tea hot for hours. I’m sure your PI would like this gift. If you want you can pair this gift with a set of gourmet tea or coffee.

5. Pi Tie Bar: 

If you know a guy that is crazy about numbers give him this stylish Pi Tie bar to enhance his style. I know a few math geeks and engineers that would appreciate this gift. Plus it’s a nice statement piece that I know he would like because it’s very unique. If you want to go the extra mile pair this gift with a stylish tie. Continue reading 10 Gift Ideas for Scientists II:

My 2nd Blogiversary: My STEM Journey – To be Continued…

Welcome to my 2nd Blogiversary of Mademoiselle Scientist. After two years of blogging here is what I learned:

STEM interests generally start early: I have always been excited about all things STEM. At a very young age I knew that I wanted to become a scientist and later get my Ph.D. (This is something I’m still exploring if the right opportunity/program/time comes.) But the one thing I questioned was; how would I get there? I know we all have been there at one point of our STEM career.

Resources need to be accessible to all. There are many budding students who have this same question but some will never become scientists due to lack of resources. With the right exposure, opportunity and mentors students will have the tools needed to become scientists. I am excited to see what the next generation of scientists brings.

Mentoring is important at all levels. Mentors are people who went through though the ups and downs of a STEM career and want to pay it forward. It’s not impossible without mentors but mentors can make a huge difference. My mentors from an early age helped me to become a scientist, researcher, STEM advocate and science communicator. Through all the challenges I still wanted to pursue a STEM career because I cannot imagine myself doing something outside of  STEM.

Science communication is a great tool, especially when combined with education. Further into my STEM journey I discovered my passion for STEM goes beyond research and writing. My passion extends to being an STEM educational advocate for underrepresented groups. My goal is to share resources to support the next generations of scientists. As a science communicator I hope to grow Mademoiselle Scientist into a platform that will be accessible to all who are interested in STEM careers.

Continue reading My 2nd Blogiversary: My STEM Journey – To be Continued…

#DearME STEM College Student Edition: What I Would Tell My Younger Self Part II

Recently, I came across this #DearME video. The #DearME Initiative is a global Initiative started by YouTube to celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8) to empower young girls everywhere. After watching a few #DearME videos I was inspired share my #DearME STEM College Student Edition. It is important to reflect on the past to truly understand your journey. If you are a recent graduate or looking to update your myIDP tool write down the advice you would give your younger self. Think back to when you were a freshman in college. Here are the things I would tell my younger self – STEM College Student Edition:

#DearME: My Advice to My Younger Self – STEM College Student Edition:

1. It’s okay if you change your major:

When you go to college you will have an idea about what major or career you want, but things can change. After taking a few courses it is okay to explore different majors. Talk to your academic advisor and upperclassmen to see what other majors are out there. Remember your major doesn’t define you. Whether you want to become an engineer, scientist or work in public health there are many pathways to your STEM career.

2. Don’t be afraid to be assertive:

Ask questions, reach out to potential mentors and network. As a freshman this can be a bit scary, but give it a try. When you come out of your shell and start putting yourself out there people will notice. Plus you never know what opportunities you will find. If you are looking for some tips and tricks the book, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers by Lois Frankel is a good resource.

3. Explore the opportunities that STEM can take you early on:

A STEM degree can take you anywhere. Sometimes thinking about different career paths can be a bit overwhelming as a STEM college student. Take time to talk to people and explore the opportunities at your university’s career center. Whether you want to study abroad, do research or get an internship seek opportunities. Even if you are a freshman you can start.

4. Remember your hard work will pay off eventually:

Being a STEM college student is a challenge, but all the obstacles you will face are worth it. Study-a-thons, hectic schedules and 4-hour chemistry labs may seem like a lot, but you will make it. Space out your course-load so that you can have a fun course in the mix of your STEM courses. The life of a STEM college student is about balance and you will learn it before you graduate. Remember success is great, but you don’t have to break yourself getting there. There will be ups and downs, but you will get through it.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help before it is too late:

If you are having a difficult time in one of your STEM courses ask for help. Find a group of peers in your major. Groups like NSBE, SWE, SHPE and SOT are great places to start. Plus if you join these groups you can make new friends in your major and have a strong support system to help you throughout your college career.

6. Enjoy your college experience:

Even though you may have a busy life as a STEM college student make sure you have fun. Go to social events, join groups or play sports. College is not only about getting your education, but it is also about having fun. When you graduate college you want to look back and say you were able to earn your degree and enjoy your college experience.

7. Don’t let negativity get you down:

Don’t let other people’s negativity get in your way of moving forward in your STEM career. Find a group of people who get you and can help you through your tough times.

To learn more check out part I of my advice to my younger STEM self.

What would you tell your younger self as a STEM College Student? #DearME

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Lessons to my Younger Self: STEM Edition

Happy New Year! After participating in the #BLACKandSTEM major Tweets roll call last week I was inspired to share my top lessons to my younger self.

Lesson to my Younger Self (STEM Edition): Continue reading Lessons to my Younger Self: STEM Edition