What inspired you to found She STEMs?
She STEMs was the community I never had while initially pursuing my STEM interests. At the time, I didn’t have any friends with similar interests, so I usually find myself attending hackathons and seeking weekend workshops or programs by myself. To say the least, I felt isolated and continuously second guessed my worth within the technology space. Imposter syndrome, duck syndrome, and the overall feeling of not feeling worth are all areas I’ve struggled with and still have low points with today. To combat this, I wanted to ensure every student felt confident and capable pursuing their passions, leading me to create She STEMs! My overarching goal with She STEMs has always been to ensure the community is an inclusive and supportive one, and it’s been amazing seeing our students continue their STEM interests after our programs and beyond!
Who was your role model and/or inspiration?
Too many people to count! In terms of some quick shoutouts, I send major thanks to Sofia Ongele, Areeta Wong, Jenny Xu, the community at the National Center for Women in IT, and Kode With Klossy. For me, the people around me were the ones who inspired me. I would never have guessed I could create the impact I’ve had today without them. Seeing the incredible things the people around me were doing showed me that my age wasn’t a limitation to make an impact, it was an opportunity to go after my interests right then and there.
What is the best piece of advice you have received that has helped you be successful?
Comparison is the thief of joy. As a kid, I had extreme amounts of anxiety. From mismatching socks to raising my hand in class, my mind was locked in this idea of needing to look perfect. When my friend mentioned the above quote to me, it shook a nerve in my body, and since then I’ve kept this quote with me everywhere I go.
What motivates you?
I’m an optimist at heart. I’ve had countless pitfalls where I’ve wanted to give up, but the one thing is remembering my “why”. During dense courses and overloaded schedules, I’ve always reflected on the impact I’m making and the opportunities I can open for others by pushing myself further.
How has you life and daily routines in regards to She STEMs changed as a result of COVID-19?
In terms of She STEMs, we’ve had to put a pause to our program. Generally, we host our main program in the Summer, so unfortunately we weren’t able to run the camp as me and a few other organizers were busy with family or work priorities. However, we’re in the works of developing online curriculum, so students from outside the Bay Area can better access and explore STEM opportunities with our programs!
If you could know the absolute truth to one question, what would you ask?
Hm...I’m not sure if I would ask a question. I think any question I would ask would be one that wouldn’t necessarily have an absolute truth or definite solution, so having the ability to ponder or experiment about it is the best thing I can keep on doing. There’s a certain aura created by uncertainty that makes questioning so fun.
If you had a theme song, what would be?
Good question! This could go either two ways, whichever song Taylor Swift writes next or an instrumental musical composition along the lines of a Joe Hisaishi piece.
In your opinion, who do you think is the most impressive person in the world right now, and why?
Not a specific person, but a group – teachers! I can only imagine the shift that they’re having to make to ensure that their students all have accessibility to materials and education. Especially today, it’s key for our educators to prepare their students for technological advancements and shifts in the world. Ultimately though, I think educators have the unique and critical role of showing students that they can succeed and uplifting them on their journey of pursuing their passion and making a difference in the world. Working in the STEM education space, I’ve met so many passionate educators, and I can only imagine the impact they’ve made and continue to make on their students.
What advice do you have for fellow or younger students?
Here’s a few pieces of advice that I’ve kept close to my heart over the years:
Comparison is the thief of joy
People want to help! Ask questions
Especially as youth, there are people who want to support you – all you have to do is reach out and make the attempt!
There are no dumb questions
Fail and fail often.
Find your community
Look for the support group who makes you feel important and that you belong every step of the way.