The Women in STEM Policy is the first seminar I have attended in my life. As a child of Dominican immigrants, the idea of a career outside of nursing seemed impossible. Especially since most of the careers highlighted in PLEN were either foreign to me or I simply had no mentor to give me tips on how to reach their path. However, PLEN gave me the tools and resources to network with people in different positions and with different educational backgrounds.
The first couple of panels taught me how to present myself as a strong STEM woman to other professionals. This laid the foundation to the rest of my PLEN experience. The panels for the rest of the five days were successful STEM professionals who excel in their career. We had the opportunity to listen and speak to all these amazing women about their careers and their journey. While at first it was intimidating to speak to such successful women, constantly having to introduce and spark up conversation with these women made it easier and easier. I am now more confident in my ability to introduce myself as an undergraduate seeking a professional career to those who already have obtained it.
Additionally, the stories of these women showed me that my degree will not define my future. The most important aspect of studying is not pursuing the degree that may sound the most impressive, but really choosing a degree that I am passionate about. The simple pursuit of a degree will give you skills that are transferable to various disciplines. Therefore, the undergraduate degree I choose will not necessarily be the subject I marry for the rest of my life. The interaction with different women who have pursued careers that are not necessarily aligned with their degree helped alleviate much of my fear of choosing a major. Simply seeing the different majors who were able to make it to the same career made me realize that the determining factor in any job we decide to pursue is not entirely the educational background, but the passion and drive you have for said career.
Since I am a first year in college, I believe this seminar really has laid a springboard for my success. The networking skills I learned through this program will stick with me forever along with all the amazing people I met through this program. This program really broke down the walls to what I believe it means to be a woman in STEM policy. I realize now that while there are a lot of barriers to be broken for women, and especially women of color, it is up to me to break down these walls. This will allow for better representation in D.C. and around the globe. We are very fortunate that a program such as PLEN exists and is available to us women. I am super grateful that I had this opportunity to learn and grow right in the beginning of the new year. I am now ready to tackle any opportunity that comes knocking. Thank you PLEN!