#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) and this is my first blog post of 2018 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

Finding Mentors + My Top Mentee Tips

In my previous post I shared my insight on the different types of mentors and how they have helped me on my journey as a woman in science. No matter what stage you are in your career you can benefit from having a mentor and being a mentor.

Just like many relationships; I have found the best mentors when I was not looking. I was at the right place at the right time. I remember one particular story of finding a mentor. I was at a National Society of Black Engineers Convention and I attended a GEM Consortium Workshop: “Why you should go to graduate school?” I was so impressed, inspired and motivated after the workshop and I realized I found my mentor (the presenter). After the workshop was over I introduced myself and asked him to be my mentor and he said yes. He gave me great advice and the top two takeaway messages I learned were: Remember what you came for and this (insert hardship/challenge you are facing) could be a blessing in disguise.

If you find yourself in a similar situation or find someone who would be a great mentor ask them for advice. People love giving advice. In my experiences, most people said yes. The people who said no were people who were super busy or I learned that they were not a good match for me. How did you find your mentor?

Finding Mentors: Continue reading Finding Mentors + My Top Mentee Tips

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

 

 

 

A few months ago I was watching a beauty related video on YouTube and 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:

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:

There will be people who believe that women or minorities in STEM cannot be successful. Don’t let their 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

Share below.

Spotlight on Science/Mademoiselle Scientist: Dr. Amy Freeman:

In my last Spotlight on Science post I talked about Dr. Greg Martin. For this Spotlight on Science/Mademoiselle Scientist post I will like to spotlight Dr. Amy Freeman.

Dr Amy Freeman

Photo Credit: AmyFreeman.net

Spotlight on Science/Mademoiselle Scientist: Dr. Amy Freeman:

Dr. Freeman is a writer, speaker, educator and Assistant Dean of Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Construction Management from Washington State University, and both a Master of Science degree in Architectural Engineering and Ph.D. in Workforce Education from the Pennsylvania State University. In addition, she belongs to numerous organizations including the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) to name a few. She is a perfect example of a great role model for women in STEM.

The first time I met Dr. Freeman was at my first college fair. She told me about the opportunities at Penn State for students interested in STEM: Pre-First Year Science and Engineering Program and the Women in Engineering Program Orientation. A few years later I participated and both of those programs and they helped shaped me into who I am today. She is also one of the reasons I’m passionate about helping the next generations of scientists. When you meet Dr. Freeman you can see the passion in her heart when it comes to STEM diversity. She oversees many diversity programs such as the Multicultural Engineering Program (MEP) and Women in Engineering Program (WEP) among other things. Not to mention she is a dynamic speaker. If you want to sample a bit of her energy check out her YouTube Channel.  Do you feel her energy?

Continue reading Spotlight on Science/Mademoiselle Scientist: Dr. Amy Freeman:

A Little Bit about the Scientist…

My name is Martina and I am a Toxicologist, Science Writer and STEM Advocate. One of the most common questions I get asked is: What is toxicology?  Usually this question is followed by: What can you do with that? Most people assume that toxicologists only work on autospies and do CSI type work.

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Yes, forensic toxicologists and other types of STEM disciplines can do this type of work, but as a toxicologist you can do other things as well. Just like many STEM fields toxicology is interdisciplinary and allows you to solve problems. For example, I am interested in public health, vaccines, safety and STEM education. As a toxicologist my career choices are not limited.

Even though as a toxicologist I am not limited to my career options I realized that there was a limited number of underrepresented groups in toxicology. What’s up with that? As a black woman in STEM representation is important to me. This is why I share my story and I encourage you to share your STEM story.

My journey is not linear and it had bumps along the road. I know many people can relate no matter what your field. These bumps along my science journey taught me to stop putting myself in a box, explore all that STEM has to offer and be open. My career journey has allowed me to wear many hats. I got to be a researcher, STEM educator, science communicator, science writer, director and my list keeps growing. At first, my goal was to become a vaccine development researcher. Now my goal is to become a director of a STEM Program. Goals change and a STEM career allows you to do many things!

What is your STEM story? How can we increase the number of underrepresented groups in STEM? Share below.