Today, my social media pages woke up to a beautiful feature by Vanguard STEM, an organization dedicated to promoting and applauding women in STEM. I am honored to be among their honorees!
The story gave an opportunity to reflect on the events of this past month, the PROMISE AGEP Summer Success Institute in Maryland this past weekend, and the 40th Anniversary of the National GEM Consortium earlier in August. At both events, I had an opportunity to see and thank many of my mentors, and I was humbled to be thanked by some of my mentees — several of whom are now professors, scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs in their own rights.
The photo below was taken in Miami during the first week of August when Dr. Corey Baker came up to me, along with some other alums and graduate students from the University of Florida to say “Thanks” for taking time with him as an undergrad, and for continuing to mentor through graduate school.
This interaction, and photo reminded me that it doesn’t take much to encourage someone with a tip that will help them to succeed, an email that tells them to continue on their journey, or just a “hello” now and then. I didn’t know that it meant that much to these scholars above until they told me in Miami. In light of the US News article, African-American Men: The Other STEM Minority, I am very proud of these young men who are the next generation of PhDs in engineering.
I also look to my own mentors … and there are many. At the National GEM Conference, I had a chance to greet and thank Dr. Howard G. Adams, who has been a mentor since I was in graduate school. He was one of the mentors who told me to go to graduate school, but he has also followed my career, and continues to give me great advice — even when we are traveling together on the speaking circuit for GEM. The PROMISE Summer Success Institute (SSI) 2016 gave me a chance to have a photo with some of my mentors.
This is the newest picture on my FB profile (August 24, 2016) — The #RoleModelSquad at our PROMISE Summer Success Institute in Maryland. Some are younger than me. Some older. Dr. Janet Rutledge, on the far right, first Black woman to get a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech is one of the main reasons that I have a PhD. I knew “of” her as an engineering undergrad at Howard, I applied to Northwestern because she was an engineering professor there. The rest is history! Kaye, to the far left is just everything … she makes us all stand taller and rise higher. Jedidah Isler on my right is the embodiment of a STAR – creator of Vanguard STEM for women of color and an Astrophysicist. Christine Grant – the Presidential Mentor who prays for me and never ceases to give the “You Go Girl” messages. And then there is the Queen, Gloria Ladson-Billings, who has always been Sister Gloria to me … the scholar who would just let me hang out in her couch when I was an assistant professor in Wisconsin. She so “down” and yet so scholarly. I thank God for putting these people in my life. The PROMISE Summer Success Institute (SSI) was trending worldwide on Twitter on Saturday via the #ThinkBigDiversity hashtag. Thanks to everyone who made the conference successful!
These are just a few of my role models. There have been many who have modeled excellence in so many ways. From students to teachers to family members, and friends … all of you have been influential, and I thank you!
Here are some tweets from the last few weeks:
— VanguardSTEM (@VanguardSTEM) August 24, 2016
— Dr. Q (@DrQualls) August 23, 2016
— Corey E Baker (@DrCoreyBaker) August 6, 2016
— Renetta G. Tull (@Renetta_Tull) August 5, 2016
— Kristen (@CricketLickit) August 20, 2016
— Renetta G. Tull (@Renetta_Tull) August 21, 2016