What does inspiration mean to you and how would you use your platform in your future career to inspire others?
A springboard for creativity is what inspiration means to me. I see inspiration as a source of stimulation or influence that drives me to do or strive for something I didn’t otherwise think possible. Although I am young, it is evident that our culture is obsessed with measuring talent and ability, therefore, the role of inspiration often gets overlooked. Inspiration has been a vital part of my life, often coming from my grandfathers. Inspiration awakens me to new possibilities, rather than sticking with ordinary experiences and limitations.
I recognized my love and natural ability for math and science at an early age. Ever since then I’ve aspired to become an Engineer. As a Black female, this is one of the most difficult career field to embark upon. Currently, only 13% of the engineering workforce are women, and of that, 5.3% are Black. In this data I don’t see barriers, I see opportunities. I see the opportunity to put my talent to work and improve some of the plights within our society. I see the opportunity to serve as a role model to young children.
Coming from humble beginnings, I only know how to be grounded. This is a necessary characteristic to have in order to reach children. It is important to me to inspire young children because I was inspired as a young child. I grew up with two amazing grandfathers who adored and lived for the purpose of inspiring me. Just over a year ago, I lost both of them. This shook the core of who I am as a person, until I realized that their work was done. The impression they left on me and what they instilled in me will carry me through the rest of my life as a replenishing source of love and inspiration. I would like to be a similar source of inspiration to children through teaching them to look for the positive in all situations and maintain an open mind. Being open-minded is the gateway to receiving inspiration when we least expect it. I will seek out opportunities to expose children to STEM-based careers and help children discover their talents and natural abilities. Real purpose come from intrinsic motivation, if children can experience this at an early age, they will grow with passion, see their possibilities and not just seek extrinsic motivation. The most powerful thing in the world is inspiration. Regardless of age, inspiration can shape a person’s perception of their abilities. When we inspire, we believe…when we believe, we will achieve!
What are you currently doing to inspire those around you?
We build the future by learning from the past and investing in the present. I am a Girl Scout and have been for almost 10 years. Community service and leadership is at the core of what it means to be a Girl Scout. Over the years I identified various needs within my community and designed projects to fulfill or improve these needs. Three years ago, I decided to volunteer at a local elementary school. At that time, the school I chose was the neediest school in a county of 286 schools. Demographically, this school is 99% free and reduced lunch, 96% Black and 4% Hispanic.
Last year I worked with teachers in their classrooms only to notice that students avoided math and science mostly due to preconceived fear. It became my goal to change this perception within this school. I met with the school administrators, math coach, science coach and STEM teacher. It was exciting to me that the school offered a STEM class to all students because this was a perfect vehicle to use to foster a love of math and science within the student body. After collaboration with staff to realistically identify where needs can be met and have the greatest impact, I decided to build STEM-based libraries for their math & STEM classrooms. In doing this, students not only reinforced math concepts, but they also read more and increased their conceptual understanding. After further collaboration, I decided to also put my efforts into building a Robotics Club at the school.
In order to begin, the Robotics Club needed a robot. I raised funds and purchased robotics equipment for the school. Then I volunteered more than 100 hours after school to teach students how to build the robot from thousands of tiny pieces. The robot looked cool but students didn’t know what to do with it or how to control. I used my robotics training to teach the students how to write codes (Language C++). Through coding, they learned how to control and manipulate the robot.
In December 2019, I facilitated a Family Night at the school so the Robotics Club could showcase what they’d learned through a live demonstration. I invited a guest speaker; a female engineer from Florida Department of Transportation. She spoke of different minority representation in the field of engineering and challenged students to act on their curiosity. Throughout this project, students discovered their talents and interests; some liked reading the blueprint and building the robot, others were better at writing the codes for the robot, while some excelled at driving and maneuvering the robot.
The Robotics Club grew in membership and went to competition in January of 2020. Although they didn’t win, they did well and left the competition full of intrinsic motivation. Every member of the Robotics club asked me to continue working with them in preparation for competition next year. I have pledged my support for next year, another year to be an inspiration to young students, our future.
What you would do with the scholarship award if you were to receive it?
If I am awarded with this scholarship, I will use it to offset the increasing cost of attending college. College will allow me to further my education which I can use to be more of an inspiration. This scholarship would make college more affordable, and for that I would be grateful.