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 help other scientists, especially underrepresented groups.
I encourage everyone to find at least one mentor. 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. (more…)