Why did you choose STEM as a career?
I chose a career in STEM because I wanted to enter a field where I can impact the lives of others. Engineers are the world’s problem solvers , so by being an engineer the work I produce can truly make an impact. STEM is the path to the future and it’s cool to think I could be a part of history one day.
What has your experience been as a Black in STEM?
Being black in STEM has it’s positives and negatives. My educational experience with STEM is unique since I’ve attended predominately white institutions my entire life. At times I didn’t feel supported by my educators or peers and I had to work twice as hard to prove that I belonged in the courses I was taking. However, despite the lack of support that motivated me to seek support from those I could related to. This is where my NSBE involved began and where I gained the support system I needed to be successful in engineering. Also , where support was lacking that pushed me to be that support system for those just like me. My experience as being Black STEM encouraged me to create a better experience for others pursuing STEM.
What has been your biggest challenge working in STEM?
My biggest challenge with working in STEM is time management and balance. STEM is challenging and demanding and it can be easy to mis-prioritize all aspects of my life. At times I’ve felt burnt out with school, extracurriculars, working etc . That’s when I realized something needed to change. Over time I’ve learned the importance of time management to reduce stress and to evenly distribute my time. Also focusing more on my own mental health and not forgetting to take care of myself has greatly benefit me. Lastly, learning to say “No” has been a hard but necessary step for me. The leader in me often wants to do it all, but I’ve learned that’s not always in my best interest. Saying no or even asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness/ inferiority and is necessary for one’s personal growth. I’ve used these challenges I faced not be my crutch but to help me to continue to grow and improve.
What advice do you have for other Blacks who want to get involved in STEM?
My biggest piece of advice is to be comfortable with your journey through STEM and own it! Your path thru STEM may not be like your peers and that’s okay. Try not to always compare yourself to others, stay focused on your goals and ambitions. Your journey thru STEM needs to defined by what works best for YOU. Never let anyone tell you can’t do something ! Some may see you struggle in something and assume “ STEM is too hard for you” , “ Maybe you should change your major”, which is wrong. Struggle doesn’t equate to incapability! You belong . Blacks have been excelling and changing the world of STEM since the beginning of time. We are genetically coded for greatness and excellence. Always remember that ! Work hard, stay focused, and keep pushing until you achieve what your heart desires.