STEM Policy: It Is More Non-Linear Than You Think

I learned about the PLEN seminar from various classmates and professors. At first, I saw PLEN flyers posted all over the school and emails were sent out regularly. Initially, I was not too keen on attending, but my classmates continued to talk about how much fun they had during their PLEN experience. I finally decided to go once my professor mentioned a STEM policy seminar for PLEN. I was curious about how I could apply my science background to politics, but at the time I was unaware of the vast possibilities.

IMG_3959The PLEN experience exceeded my expectations, as it gave me an entirely new scope of which to think of possible careers. The most significant takeaway from PLEN was the power of networking. All the speakers gave crucial advice as to not only create relationships but how to maintain them. Furthermore, I could conceptualize the real-world workings of how science and politics complement one another. I think the most helpful part, for not only myself but the other young women, was being surrounded by women in fields that many of us could not even fathom aligning with their respective academic backgrounds. Ultimately, I could make lasting relationships with other young women interested in STEM policy.

 This seminar motivated me more than anything and prompted me to look at everything as an opportunity. Moreover, the seminar taught me to not be myopic in my career search and to consider all avenues of science and politics. This colloquium imparted the power of believing in oneself and your convictions, and that it was acceptable for those opinions to change. Visiting places such as the U.S. Capitol, NIH (National Institute of Health), and ESA (Entertainment Software Association) were incredibly eye-opening. Especially eye-opening was visiting the ESA, as I was unaware that I could combine my love for biology, political science, mathematics, and video games into one career. In addition, it smashed the perception that most things math, biology, and policy related were dull and boring.

Initially, I had planned to pursue my Ph.D. in Public Health with a focus in either Biostatistics or Health Policy and along with this joining the military. However, this seminar has urged me to think of life in non-linear terms. In other words, I have learned the power of non-linearity and that not many, if any at all, ever follow a strict plan. Attending the PLEN seminar reaffirmed my thoughts on the importance of being daring and persistent. Persistent and daring to the point that nobody can ever question your future expertise. In conclusion, I intend to pursue my ambitions daringly and persistently, because from here I have nowhere to go but up.

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Jayla Harris attended the Women in STEM Policy seminar with a scholarship sponsored by STEM for Her. She will graduate from Hood College in 2019.

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