I will admit, I am not as involved in community service as I would like to be, I always seem to find an excuse. In the past, I have assisted with the undergraduate student ACS section at UAB, mentored both high school and undergraduate students, have ran a couple 5K races for charity, encouraged student community through planning events with the chemistry graduate students at UAB, and volunteered to help clean up and restore areas of Pleasant Grove, Al., after the tornadoes of 2011. However, I still have yet to find that one charity or organization that just calls to me. And it may just mean I have not looked hard enough, networked with the right people, or I just need to create the program or organization myself.
I know while at Birmingham-Southern College, I will become involved with the various student Chemistry and Science clubs, such as their local student ACS group. However, I would also like to implement a summer internship program between BSC and the local biotech community. This program will allow us to increase awareness of the growing biotech industry in Birmingham, Al. as well as give STEM majors at BSC a chance to receive valuable working experience and hands on training. I believe because of my involvement with Blondin Bioscience, and my connections with almost every biotech company in the area, I am uniquely positioned to develop this program! Almost every other discipline i know, such as Education or Business, there is some sort internship program already established and shown to be effective, but for some reason, this has not yet happened in Chemistry, at least not in our area. True, undergraduate research opportunities do exist for most STEM majors, but even at larger institutions, it is difficult to place each student into a research lab, and for those students who may not be interested in research as a long term career, a summer workplace internship program at a local lab would be immensely more beneficial.
Recently, a friend and mentor (Victor Brown of the BBA) approached me with an idea: to create a program designed to increase awareness and involvement for women and minorities in STEM disciplines within rural areas. There are currently a number of programs targeting local urban areas in our state, such as Birmingham and Montgomery, but there are few, if any, that I know of that target specifically suburban or rural areas outside of the cities in our state. From my own experience, I have seen that there are a number of women who enter as STEM majors at the undergraduate level (at Montevallo, I believe we may have even out numbered our male peers), but a number never finish, and few go on to pursue their Master's or a PhD. I believe one of the major obstacles that women face in upper level STEM disciplines is the ability to find that work/life balance as we age. To obtain a Masters or PhD in science would mean that our option to be a stay at home mom is pretty much out the window, and chances are more often than not that women may feel discouraged in continuing their education and believe that they would have to choose between a career in science or a family. However, I would like to be an example of how that is not true. I am a wife to a wonderfully supportive husband, I am a mom to a beautiful little boy (whom I had while in graduate school finishing up my dissertation), a soon to be Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Birmingham-Southern College, and the Director of Research for a start up company (Blondin Bioscience). I would love to be this example for future women in science, that (although its no walk in the park) you can follow your dream career in science and have a family (and be an ACTIVE member of your family).
If you would like to get involved or have suggestions of either my internship program or the STEM enrichment program, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
As an educator, researcher, wife and mother, I am dedicated to developing and assessing innovations in chemistry education, medical diagnostics, and the biophysical characterization of non-helical DNA structures found in the non-coding regions of the genome.