What’s Your Story?

September 4th, 2008

I’ve been invited by the Center for STEM Excellence at Scramento State University to give the Keynote talk at their Expanding Your Horizons conference this October. As a result, I’ve been thinking about all sorts of topics for my talk. Do I talk about science in general, specific areas of STEM, my personal experiences?

In my thinking and searching I came to realize that as the Keynote speaker it is my job not to inform, but to be inspirational and motivational… to get the girls at the conference fired up and excited about both the day ahead and their own futures. But, how to do that when I have my own struggles with inspiration and motivation on a daily basis?

I think I’ve come to an answer; lead by example. How do I get past those daily hurdles, and keep moving? How did I find a career that I love? How did you?

I want to hear the stories of real women from real women, especially if you are working in a STEM related career. I want to share our stories.

  • What do you do as a career?
  • How did you wind up in your career (did you choose it or did it choose you)?
  • Do you love what you do?
  • What do you love most about what you do?
  • How do you stay motivated (are your motivations internal or external)?
  • What is your measure of success?

I’ll take your answers as comments here, emails (kirsten at this week in science dot com), video comments on youtube or seesmic, however you see fit to send them.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to use these stories to motivate not only the girls at the conference, but everywhere, and of all ages.

2 Responses to “What’s Your Story?”

  1. Angela Mason on September 4, 2008 4:10 pm


    My journey into science has been, well interesting. I grew up on a farm in rural Northeast Missouri and always loved helping dad on the farm. In elementary school I adored science and it was one of my favorite subjects. Somewhere in high school though, science got trapped in the pages of the books and didn’t seem applicable, it didn’t seem personal or real anymore.

    Fast forward to Spring of 2007 and I had been forced to take a break from college because of mental illness and a bad major choice (psychology). I had my associates degree, which in all honesty leaves you no future unless you go to more school. That spring I spend most of my time working with my Dad on the farm, or wandering around the farm, looking at the decomposition process where there had been a grass fire in the woods the year before, and an ice storm in 2002. I just spent time in nature, and realized that is where my love was.

    That spring I got the desire to continue college back, and while piddling on the internet, found a lot of information on Urban Agriculture. The idea of teaching city kids who don’t know where their food comes from, and being able to play in the dirt intrigued me and just grabbed me. I came to the University of Missouri- Columbia last fall and am still here, majoring in sociology and minoring in plant science. I NEVER thought I would be pursuing a career this science related, but I am, and I am SO excited about it!

  2. kazari on September 10, 2008 7:45 am

    I was one of those odd girls that found maths easy. I loved biology, hated physics with a passion, and was brought up thinking nobody ever got a decent job with a degree in english.
    I had no idea what I wanted to do at university, so I picked a science degree because it gave me the most different subjects. Then I picked Environmental Science because it had the broadest range of majors. When my chosen majors didn’t work out due to timetable clashes, I picked up a couple of computer science units – and found to my amazement that my brain just ‘clicked’ with that sort of logic.
    I ended up with a double major in Geography and IT. My field has turned out to be Geographic Information Systems, or GIS.
    My first job was as a Marine Conservation Officer, helping create new Marine Parks. It was a highly competitive field for graduates, but my IT skills (particularly GIS) gave me a free pass.
    I spent a long time working for different government departments, doing scientific analysis to support policy decisions (and making pretty maps to show the results).
    Eventually I had to make a decision. GIS is a hybrid field – the scientists consider you a technician, and the geeks consider you a scientist. I had to choose between getting more geeky, becoming a manager, or going back to university to get further science qualifications. I got head-hunted to help maintain a big corporate mapping system for a multi-utility company. I think that now officially makes me a geek.
    These days my time is split between database administration, building some web-mapping applications and advising people on how best to analyse their spatial data. I don’t make pretty maps anymore, and I’m no longer working in Conservation. But I get to learn new stuff and play with cutting edge technology. And I’m starting to look at projects integrating the mapping information we have with everything else. This is exciting!
    My main measure of success is that I’m still learning new things. I’d love to get back into the green stuff, but it just doesn’t pay so well, and i don’t have enough letters after my name to progress past where I am. One day soon I think I’ll be managing a group similar to where I work now. And I’m looking forward to that.

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