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Letters to My Young Self April 6, 2011

Posted by A weekend of culture, style, and summer in Letter to Young Self.
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To join us in 2012, see the rationale and what we’re looking for here and submit a post preferably by 3/15 to media@scienceclubforgirls.org.

Thank you so much to all the contributors to our blog project in 2011! We’ve had wonderful responses all around.

Awo Ashiabor is a native of Ghana and hopes to start a nonprofit to encourage young people there to enter science and engineering fields.
“I would advise that you continue to pursue the subjects that interest you. Do not be overly concerned about selecting classes that will land you the medical career or the job as a nun or the job as a diplomat. That is a tall order. Simply follow your interests. The dots will connect organically.”
Marcie Black is the Co-Founder and the Chief Technology Officer at Bandgap Engineering. She is developing technology that will reduce the cost of solar electricity. She is Mass High Tech’s 2010 Woman to Watch awardee. “Whatever you decide to do, you will do wonderfully if you put your heart into it. So my advice to you is to follow your heart, your passion, and your dreams and don’t let difficulties stand in the way.”
Margaret Chu-Moyer works at Amgen and is a Mass High Tech 2011 Woman to Watch. Her early interest in the ingredients in shampoo foreshadowed her path to become an organic chemist. She has led research to discover drugs (therapeutic compounds) for diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and frailty.
“You are smart – that is a gift. Use it to the full extent. Being called a “brain-o” hurts right now, but isn’t the end of the world and in fact, you will be able to use your brain so many ways in college and beyond, which is just a few years away.”
Phoebe Cohen is the Education and Outreach Coordinator and Postdoctoral Associate on the MIT NASA Astrobiology Team. As part of the Advent of Complex Life team, she studies fossils and answers archaeology questions about evolution.
“I promise you this – the things that make you weird at 12 will serve you well for the rest of your life. However, it won’t always be easy.”
Allison Drew is a cell biologist. The organisms she studies keep getting smaller and smaller, as she started out studying kangaroos, moved on to study bugs and beetles and is currently working with cancer cells.
“You’ll experience a feeling of satisfaction from finding a place to use your growing skills of observation, a vocabulary to describe the things you observe, and techniques to try to analyze why those events are taking place – that is, you’ll learn to conduct a scientific experiment.”
Elma Feric has been an electrophysiologist and a molecular neuroscientist in the Neuroscience Department at Amgen since 2008. She received her Bachelor’s in Neuroscience and Psychology from Brandeis University in 2005 and is currently finishing up her Master’s degree at Harvard University. “You don’t always have to wear a lab coat to be a scientist – a pretty dress, matching eye shadow and heels are allowed, too! Also, you can do some science while dancing in lab and listening to your favorite music – I am convinced that it helps.”
Judy Giordan is Chair of VentureWell, an advising and investment group for startup university based science and engineering ventures and former VP Global R&D for PepsiCola and International Flavors and Fragrances and VP R&D for Henkel Corporation. She is the 2010 recipient of the Garvin-Olin Medal of the American Chemical Society.
“Keep loving science, because it is really the love of your life…and will be your ticket to an amazing life and incredible opportunities – ones beyond your wildest Barbie-doll dreams!”
Anjelica Gonzalez is a biomedical engineer who uses a mutli-disciplinary approach, combining organic chemistry, molecular biology, mathematics, computational modeling and image analysis to create new biomaterials and structures to study biological processes. She also participates in research around health disparities.
“Spend this time discovering yourself and the world, and realizing that no one has all the answers. Life is full of success and failure, which keeps things exciting. Science is composed of people who don’t have the answers either, and are still searching for them.”
Joanne Kamens is the Senior Director of Research Collaborations at RXi Pharmaceuticals. She has focused her efforts on opening doors for women scientists by creating supportive mentoring networks for over a decade. She founded the Boston chapter of AWIS (the Association for Women in Science) and now serves on the national AWIS Chapters Committee. She also serves on the Board of Directors of WEST (Women Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology). “Don’t ever stop looking for and finding answers to questions. I know it is hard to be heard when you are a 4 foot tall, red headed girl and I get that you need to be strong about that, but maybe it would be good to learn other ways of persuasion and convincing too.”
Yvonne Ng is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and Chair of Center for Women, Science and Technology at St. Catherine’s University. Play—whether a home project, a trip to the lake, or a bicycle ride—is the way you re-energize your mind. Believe it or not, you will work better when you take time to play more. This is going to be one of your hardest lessons.
Tebello Nyokong is the Director of the Nanotechnology Innovation Center at Rhodes University, South Africa and the first South African scientist to win the L’Oréal-UNESCO award for women in science. Her research focus on the development of molecules similar to the ones used to dye blue jeans, which can be used as chemical sensors to detect disease-related molecules and organisms, as an alternative to chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer and for environmental clean-up.
“You believe education will equip you to have a more fulfilling career. But you have been told endlessly that women do not need a career, they just have to marry well. But you are different. You have an independent mind. You believe you can be a wife and a mother and still be a bread winner and contribute to society. And you will.”
Cheryl Sanderson is a teacher at the Summer Street Elementary School in Lynnfield, MA. She is focused on fostering excitement and curiosity to the science classroom. Sanderson received the Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence in 2010.
“Be willing to take risks even if it means you might fall flat on your face and fail, never be satisfied with what ifs, you will never grow and never have the chance to inspire others.”
Rachel Shearer is a software engineer at Google who works on making web applications and tools more accessible to users with disabilities.
“Here’s what I wish someone had told me when I was you: don’t take your defeats too personally. Good grades and test scores become less important with time and experience. And if you’re curious about something, you should pursue it with all your heart.”
Blogger 29andaPhD is currently exploring staff positions in her former field of study. You can read her blog here. “Remember the meaning and root of the word university. You are there to become a well-rounded student, to challenge views and form an opinion.”
Blogger Biochembelle is a research fellow in basic biomedical sciences, following her scientific love of proteins and chemistry. You can read her blog here. “You are your own worst enemy and critic. You don’t have very much faith in yourself. In several years, you’re going to hear this term, imposter syndrome, and boy, do you ever have it. Basically it means that you think you don’t deserve to be where you are, that you didn’t earn the praise or position.”
Blogger The Dog Zombie is currently in veterinary school. She figures she will be a veterinarian for at least five years before changing careers again. You can read her blog here. “So what I want to tell you is this: you can do anything you want. You know who you are and what you are good at right now, but that doesn’t mean that you will always be content with those limits.”

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