I'm truly blessed to be able to leverage a diverse background in government, industry and academia to become a champion of STEM education and community partnerships. Here's a small sampling of amazing adventures, also known as "work."
BACK IN THE DAY
Growing up, my parents never abandoned an opportunity to teach me about different cultures and ideologies, but it was my exploration-focused hometown of Huntsville, Alabama, also known as "Rocket City," that launched my interest in science and engineering. I entered the Spelman College Class of 2007 as a chemistry major and NASA Women In Science & Engineering Scholarship recipient. This led me to some amazing experiences including three summers of undergraduate research at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and a summer abroad in France.
The best things in life involve internships! It is no mistake that the work I do now involves coordinating internships and industry partners for students. I wholeheartedly believe that some of the best learning takes place outside of the classroom. I spent four summers at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, researching water quality analysis techniques. I conducted electro-chemistry research abroad in France with Georgia Tech, who encouraged us to travel freely across Europe on our weekends. In addition, I was a Wolverine in Buckeye Country one summer working on a City of Columbus, OH Capital Improvement Project. The opportunities I've had to work with seasoned professionals were a very important part of deciding my career moves.
After three years, I went on to attend the University of Michigan and to graduate from the Atlanta University Center Dual Degree Engineering Program. I earned both a degree in chemistry and in civil/environmental engineering. After graduation, I joined the Detroit District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a civil engineer responsible for environmental restoration, hydrology and construction projects.
championing STEM EDUCATION
As a leader within several nonprofits including NAASC and NSBE, I began to realize my strengths and true passion lied in mentoring and teaching young people. Through tutoring and volunteering as an ACT prep instructor, I began to recognize the lack of college prep and exposure to science and engineering offered in traditional school settings. To help me pursue my passion, I was awarded the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship in 2011 and earned a Master of Arts in Educational Studies from the University of Michigan in 2013.
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, this experience was the first cohort in Michigan and afforded me a rigorous Master's program, a yearlong clinical/classroom internship and mentor teachers within Detroit Public Schools. It also has opened up an incredible, lifetime network of distinguished professors, veteran educators and other fellows with rich academic and professional backgrounds that I have leaned on for advice and shared the joys and challenges of the fellowship.
As a certified STEM teacher, I served as a high school educator in Detroit, implementing Project Lead the Way curricula. In addition to starting my school district's first ever robotics elective, I became the advisor for a Junior chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers and coached an award winning underwater robotics team. Most recently, I joined the District of Columbia Public Schools' Office of College and Career as a Program Specialist to manage STEM programming including Project Lead the Way.
It has often been said that teaching is one of the most difficult yet most rewarding careers, and I can also say this with much confidence. However, my students are some of the most remarkable teachers I've ever had in my life. At the heart of STEM is inquiry, curiosity, discovery and introspection. Whenever I designed lessons or a curriculum, incorporating these important aspects, I never expected to learn so many real life lessons from my students about those very things.
I joined DCPS, because I loved the fact that schools prioritize the chance to explore career paths while students are still in high school. I'm proud that we are able to equip our students with the choice to pursue postsecondary education and college credit or enter the workforce with an industry-recognized certification BEFORE graduation. Click here to learn more about DCPS Career Education.
One of my latest accomplishments is becoming a TED-Ed Innovative Educator. As leaders within TED’s global network of over 250,000 teachers, we are dedicated to helping people make the most of TED’s free tools for teachers and students — including TED-Ed Lessons, TED-Ed Clubs and the TED-Ed Platform. Throughout the year-long program, we connect regularly across time zones and national borders to explore, create and share innovations that spark student curiosity. For my innovation, I am spreading affordable and accessible STEM lessons using TED-Ed.
excite, educate and equip girls through stem
My career has obviously not been linear but one common theme is clear: increasing access to STEM careers. As my career has changed from engineering to education, I have firsthand experience to support the fact that "women are more likely than men to switch out of STEM majors--32 percent vs. 26 percent" (NCES, 2013). In a way, joining Techbridge Girls has meant my career has come full circle. I love that throughout its 17-year history, Techbridge led an emerging movement laser-focused on engaging girls in STEM as early as elementary school, and this movement has exploded into an international charge to spur economic growth. Despite challenges across the current landscape, I'm excited to be part of this growing ecosystem to diversify STEM education and our STEM workforce. "To meet workforce supply demands, improve innovation, and ensure social equity, STEM professions need the imaginations and talents of girls and underrepresented communities of color" (Techbridge, 2015).