I had the honor and pleasure of attending the Women in STEM Policy seminar in January 2018. The timing could not have been more perfect for me, as I had just finished the first semester of my sophomore year and was feeling more confused than ever about what I wanted to do with my life. I had already declared a major in biology and thought I wanted to go to medical school until I realized that wasn’t going to be fulfilling enough for me. I was the college student who originally thought they had everything figured out and suddenly realized I needed to change my life goals, which wasn’t easy.
That’s when a PLEN ambassador at my school told me the Women in STEM Policy seminar was exactly what I needed. I knew this PLEN seminar would finally give me the sense of direction I was looking for. I immediately registered for the program and anxiously counted down the days until I traveled to Washington, DC. From a day at the National Institute of Health to spending time on Capitol Hill, I soaked in each and every minute of the seminar. I learned through each day that the opportunities of being involved in STEM policy are endless and that this is only the beginning for women to become leaders in the field. This all came full circle when I heard St. Lawrence University alumna, Erica Silver Dahl, speak at a panel about energy policy.
I am so proud to be a student at St. Lawrence University and every connection that I make with alumni empowers me to follow my goals and dreams. Erica spoke with confidence and grace about what she believed in working for Vivint Solar. I lined up excitedly with other PLEN participants and many St. Lawrence University students to speak with her. Her story was inspiring and taught me that no matter what path I decide to take in life will somehow lead me to where I belong. She took time out of her schedule after the panel to further discuss with us how she discovered her passions in life. She truly cared about educating us, gave us her best possible advice, and advised us on our paths. She showered encouragement on all of us and the smile on my face could not be swept away while speaking with her. Erica is a perfect example of a strong, successful, and confident woman, and I hope to be a successful professional like her.
It will not be an easy journey to get towards my goal, but that’s the beauty of it. Every twist, turn, and bump along the road will help me to figure out where I want to be. Speakers and panelists like Erica Silver Dahl who participate in PLEN are women who are able to transform lives for students such as myself.
I walked into PLEN at the beginning of the week feeling more confused than ever about the career journey I want to embark on, and I left feeling educated, confident, and ready to continue to take new opportunities as they come. Even though I am unsure of where I hope to end up with a career someday, I learned that I need to focus on the journey itself instead of the final destination. My experience is the same that countless students felt after leaving PLEN. I was able to attend Women in STEM policy at the right time during my college career, and the lessons I have learned from the seminar I will carry with me as I continue to progress through my college and career journey.
Marissa Saunders attended the Women in STEM Policy seminar in January 2018. She will graduate from St. Lawrence University in Spring 2020 with a Bachelors Degree in Biology and Government.