From The Women In STEM

From The Women In STEM

This is what they don't tell you as a female science major.
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From wearing natural hair to work, to realizing that medical school is not for you - women of various backgrounds have recently shared with my fellow classmates and I, not only the hardships of a science major - but the hurdles a woman in the STEM field must overcome. Their career pathways weren't always direct - that golden dream of medical school turning just a bit too molten, impractical, and unrealistic for them - but yet they persevered and pursued the road not planned.

So what wisdom have they imparted? Well for one, you are still a woman. Radical sexism and discrimination aside, you cannot be rid of your gender. You may alter it, you may accept it, you may even choose to ignore it - but genetically and historically - you were perceived to wear the skirt and apron - not the sterile, white lab coat. So as a woman, take a step back and realize that you are going to have hurdles your male counterparts won't have. While history is revolutionizing itself in terms of gender-stereotyped roles, it still stands that you might want a family - and you might be encumbered for a few months. So understand that it is okay to take a break - it is okay, to demand for shorter hours - you can leave and find a better school, job, or maybe even major that will respect what and who you are. Sometimes medical school isn’t for you, sometimes being a physical assistant, is more accommodating for your future goals beyond the dream job.

Because you are a woman. You are not the shadow counterpart of your colleagues or bosses. You are entitled to your rights, to put your foot down, and make sure you get the equality you deserve.

Key word: equality.

Equality, because you are a woman - you will have to balance on the edge of overconfident and humbleness. And what do I mean by that? One night, one student asked the panelists if it was professional or not to wear her natural hair to interview - and to an extent - work. One of the directors of one of the largest pharmaceutical companies, Daiichi Sankyo, said that it depends. America is revolutionizing, but other countries are still years behind in gender stereotyping. She advised caution and told the student to let the natural come out, when her actions have spoken for her abilities. The lesson here, is that revolution is a risk. As a whole, the professional world is still predominantly misogynic - and the choice to wear your natural hair, get that crazy hair color, is up to you. Ask yourself this: can you risk it?

However, besides being a woman there were a few key points that were said which could be universally used by everyone.

Network. Network like your life depends on it. In this day and age of technology and virtual associations, a degree is sometimes not enough to land you the job. If your future employers can speak to someone who they know, and who also personally know you – they will. And if the liaison’s word is good, you most likely will get that position. Besides that, networking can also go beyond the word of recommendation and find or even give you an offer for a job.

Learn to understand. Do not learn just go get that A or barely passing, B. If you can understand the material, you will be set for the future. If you only learn to forget after the test, you will struggle in the future. In the sciences, everything you learn from your first year and beyond is used as a foundation to learn bigger and more complex things. So don’t set yourself up for failure and month-long cram sessions in the future. Get the material down now, and let your final, cumulative exam pass by like a breeze. Or something close enough to a breeze.

Understand your worth, understand you are a woman, network – learn and retain, and you will make it big out there future STEM worker.

Cover Image Credit: Bill Dickinson

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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Sometimes "Out With The Old In With The New" Isn't the Best thing

We can't lose touch of the simpler things in life

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When I think about how much has changed and how much my world has developed since I was little, I get mind boggled realizing how different things are. I work at a restaurant in the city that I grew up in and I see famillies come and go for dinner every night. They all seem the same. The parents will walk in, check in with the hostesses and wait to be seated. If they're asked to wait, the kids sit by their parents sides playing on phones that are probably too young to have. I understand that waiting can get tedious and boring. By the time that they would sit down, I'd imagine that they would put down the devices and engage in some good old fashion conversation. I was wrong. It made me sad to see kids eating dinners with their families with zero interaction. When I was younger, I enjoyed the quality conversations I would have with my family when we got breaks from our all very hectic schedules. It's amazing how much technology has advanced, but sometimes, I believe that we might rely on it too much.

Seems like more and more things are becoming industrialized. Those "mom and pop" shops are closing down due to corporate companies buying the land. I have enough Walmart and Targets in a ten minute radius from me. Sure, places like these carry necessities are important, but when local Nurseries are closed down in order to build a new gas station, it just becomes sad. As things progress more, the more we lose touch of our roots. The places that make home special and different. The moments we have as a kid that don't involve a light on our face. Modernism is a powerful and amazing thing but we need to take a step back and reevaluate what we hold closest to us.

All in all, as we continue to develop, I will continue to advocate for the simpler moments and the simpler times. I don't think my kids will need iPhones right out of elementary school, I'll continue to visit the same hometown shops and give them as much business as possible, I'll always ask if he kids want coloring sheets at the dinner table. Although these small things might not matter in our everyday new world, they matter to me. I will always try to have so much fun that I forget to document things with my phone. The laughter and memories without the technology present. Those are the moments worth remembering.

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