Keys to Success: Keeping an Open Mind

The following is the first in a series of CollegePrepExpress guest blogs, written by students and focusing on the keys to success in school and in preparation for life. Andreea Dinicu is a junior at Glastonbury High School, Glastonbury, CT.

Several weeks ago, I attended a Forum on Women in Engineering at Columbia University. The forum was meant to generate interest in the science field among young women. In middle school, statistics show that out of all students interested in the sciences, half are male and half are female. However, the percentage of females interested in science in high school drops remarkably in high school.*

I arrived at Columbia’s Low Library, ready to begin the forum with a pen, a notebook and an open mind; little did I know that I would be leaving with an awareness of a completely different career field than any other I had previously looked into. The forum started with speeches and presentations from the faculty and continued to a tour of the undergraduate labs. Following the tour, we were shown an overview of the Engineers Without Borders Program, as it pertains to Columbia. Our day concluded with an acclamation to Columbia’s world-renowned engineering program.

The presentations given by professors and faculty were outstanding and thoroughly convinced me that despite currently being a minority, women should strive to play a larger role in the science field, particularly engineering. The fascinating research going on in the undergraduate lab led me to develop a new understanding of nanofibers, biomaterials, the development of prosthetic arms and legs, and the growth of artificial tissue to be used for skin grafts. The day opened new doors to a field I had never considered before. Not only did I develop a new interest, but I also learned an important lesson: keeping an open mind is key to success.

*From The National Science Foundation: “In elementary school about as many girls as boys have positive attitudes toward science. A recent study of fourth graders showed that 66 percent of girls and 68 percent of boys reported liking science. But something else starts happening in elementary school. By second grade, when students (both boys and girls) are asked to draw a scientist, most portray a white male in a lab coat. The drawings generally show an isolated person with a beaker or test tube. Any woman scientist they draw looks severe and not very happy. The persistence of the stereotypes start to turn girls off, and by eighth grade, boys are twice as interested in STEM careers as girls are. The female attrition continues throughout high school, college, and even the work force. Women with STEM higher education degrees are twice as likely to leave a scientific or engineering job as men with comparable STEM degrees.” (The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Research on Gender in Science and Engineering (GSE) program seeks to broaden the participation of girls and women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education fields by supporting research, the diffusion of research-based innovations, and extension services in education that will lead to a larger and more diverse domestic science and engineering workforce…..)

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