It’s About WHO You Know: Conferences Matter
I still remember the first time I attended my first National Society of Black Physicists conference, while an undergraduate at Norfolk State University. I’ll never forget seeing hundreds of black physicists buzzing around Stanford’s campus going about the business of trying to understand the mysteries of the physical (and biological) word. But far and away, the moment that blew me completely away was the group photo. It was the first time I had *ever* seen 100s of black physicists all in one place. It was pure magic and it was the moment that I knew that I belonged; that I wasn’t alone or unhinged or unusual for wanting to study physics while being black.
I don’t remember all the material covered that week, and probably couldn’t name every one I met there, but I’ll never forget standing just a tiny bit taller and prouder, shoulder to shoulder with my people—not just because we shared a broad phenotype—but because we shared an unending curiosity about the physical world.
From that moment on, I went to as many NSBP (and other #STEM+identity) conferences as I could. There’s something about those spaces that affirms the validity, importance and benefit of my identity and my interests as being equally relevant to my pursuits.
For that reason, we want to spend the upcoming month making sure you’re acquainted with the many conferences that celebrate your #STEM interests and your identity as you proceed through your academic journey. Whether you’re a college or graduate student, a high school student, or even younger (or older), we want you to know some of the best places you can go to or engage with as you develop your #STEM identity. Many of them have programming for all levels of inquirers, so it’s never too early (or late!) to plug into these communities.
We’ll kickoff the conversation on conferences by talking to two incredible women of color who also happen to be at the helm of two prominent professional societies for people of color. I wanted to take a minute to introduce you to them and talk a bit about why we here at #VanguardSTEM feel that it’s important for you to know about these conferences as valuable resources for your development, above and beyond your subject-specific professional societies.
We want you to know that you aren’t standing alone, that you aren’t strange for studying the thing you love in the skin that you’re in…
and we know that is not always the impression one comes away with when attending a solely science-focused professional conference. So it’s important for you to also be attending conferences that affirm your whole self. We’ll discuss why such organizations are important and help you map out a way to get to them on our next show.
Tomorrow, September 6, 2016 at 7pm ET, we’ll be talking with Dr. Antonia Franco, the Executive Director of SACNAS and Talitha Hampton, the President of NOBCChE. Here’s a quick peek into who they are. They will tell you even more tomorrow on the show, but we just want you to get as excited as we are about what is to come.
Talitha Hampton is currently a program manager at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals where she manages critical planning, business communications, project execution and strategy coordination in support of the AstraZeneca Network Strategy and Operations group. On July 1, 2015, she was named President of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) and is the youngest elected president in the organization’s 42-year history. In addition, Talitha is currently a graduate student at George Washington University.
Dr. Antonia O. Franco serves as the Executive Director of Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS); a national nonprofit organization devoted to increasing diversity in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. She leads a community of 20,000 students, scientists and educators including 115 chapters nationwide in the movement to build a critical mass of diverse scientists with advanced degrees and in positions of leadership in STEM. Dr. Franco’s career has spanned nearly two decades in higher education and philanthropy working on issues of educational access, equity and college completion in underrepresented communities. She also has extensive experience in developing educational and community-based partnerships. Dr. Franco earned her Doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College of Education at Arizona State University.
So as you can see, we’ve got quite a bit of star power to bring to the conversation and we can’t wait for you to join the conversation. Everything we do here at #VanguardSTEM is with an eye towards helping you better navigate your STEM journey. We want you to chart your course in as healthy and whole a way as possible so that you can continue the legacy of women of color in STEM who are completely changing the game…and what better way to do that than to connect you to people who (can often) identify with you on many intersecting levels. You are not alone, there are people who care about the (scientific) things you do, and we want to make sure you know where to find them. So stick with us over the month as we bring you information about other fantastic conferences, how to apply for funding to attend, first-hand accounts of attendee experiences, networking once you get there and more. We want you to enter October (and conference season) with all you need to know to make the best of these awesome venues for connection and personal+professional improvement.
Note: The image above was taken at the National Society of Black Physicists meeting in 2015 and is comprised of the black women physicists who were in attendance. Photo credit to Dr. Jami Valentine and the African American Women in Physics page (aawip.com).
Copyright © 2016 by Jedidah Isler
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