Before coming to the PLEN Women in STEM Policy seminar, I had almost no experience in understanding the process behind writing policy, especially at a federal level. I never expected to learn that there are so many different of implications of STEM in policy, from being a congressional staffer advising on policy to being a scientist in a lab that helps by with consulting on new policy or recommending changes in current policy.
As a North Virginia native, I thought that I had seen all that DC had to offer, but this seminar opened my eyes to a whole different side of DC: a side where people are constantly working together to keep the nation going. This seminar allowed me to go to places that most people never get to see in DC and meet women in jobs that I would never have thought possible with my STEM background. Through this seminar I was able to meet House representatives that told all of the women in the seminar the importance of our work as STEM majors and how we could transition into the federal policy writing sector without abandoning our STEM backgrounds.
One of my favorite things about this seminar was the diversity of the students and the women who spoke to us in panels and workshops. Many of the women that we met had taken different paths to get to the powerful positions that they are in today, and it was inspiring to know that there is more than one way to get there. The most important thing that I learned at this seminar was an idea that was repeated at many of the panels and workshops that we went to, “don’t limit yourself, with hard work you can get anywhere.”
Alexandra Gibbs attended the 2017 Women in STEM Policy seminar during her sophomore year at Appalachian State University. She attended this seminar with a scholarship sponsored by the Hopper Dean Foundation.