Blog Post 8/4/17

Welcome Back Faithful Readers,

I made it!

I’m sitting in the Reagan Washington National Airport waiting on my flight back to Baton Rouge. As I reflect upon my experiences this summer, two words come to mind: gratitude and growth. Yes, they both start with the letter “g” :]

Gratitude: The more I live, the more I grateful I become. If you’ve been able to read along this summer, you know that many people have willingly and selflessly invested in my life – personally, professionally, and academically. To keep things short and sweet, I won’t go into all the of the ‘who’ and ‘what’ details, because this post would be wayyyyyyyy too long. However, I will mention the fact that so many of my NSF friends and mentors came to see my final presentation this week. Though they are all well beyond where I am today, they gave their time to support and encourage me. Priceless!

Presenting my research at NSF

Presenting my research at NSF

Growth: The paradox of learning is that you begin to realize how much more you have to learn! The QEM internship provided me with an environment conducive to explosive growth, and my goal is to recreate that environment wherever I find myself in life. I never want to stop learning and growing, because everything I gain becomes a gift that I can give to others around me.

Saying my goodbyes was certainly bittersweet, but I’m excited about stepping out into what’s next. As it says in Ecclesiastes,

“Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.”

Blog Post 7/28/17

Hey Y’all,

Welcome back to my blog!

The countdown is on, because I only have one more week here in DC. Time if flying by quickly, but I’m still learning a lot and making new memories each week.

So apparently, I’ve been living in DC long enough to be a tour guide :] My friends from Baton Rouge came to visit last weekend, and we tried to pack as much as possible into one day.

My BR Friends Reppin' in DC

My BR Friends Reppin' in DC

Flowers at the Smithsonian National Zoo

Flowers at the Smithsonian National Zoo

We finished our day by enjoying dinner in ChinaTown

We finished our day by enjoying dinner in ChinaTown

This week all the QEM interns toured the Lockheed Martin facility, where different staff and engineers shared about their experiences in the company. The Lockheed Martin team was so helpful in answering any questions we had about their organization and about career planning in general.

Blog Post 7/21/17

Hey Fam, Welcome Back!

This week, I’ve got more pictures to share with you. Enjoy and thanks for following along!

At the Georgetown Waterfront

At the Georgetown Waterfront

After church on Sunday, I enjoyed shrimp pho with a friend at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Columbia Heights.

After church on Sunday, I enjoyed shrimp pho with a friend at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Columbia Heights.

Visited Georgetown University with my roommates. Beautiful campus!

Visited Georgetown University with my roommates. Beautiful campus!

Traveled to The American Center for Physics in Maryland to collaborate with the PhysTEC (Physics Teacher Education Coalition) team for my research project at NSF. Y’all the building is literally located on Physics Ellipse Drive – for a nerd physicist like me, this was social media worthy :]

I had the honor of being invited to represent the National Science Foundation at the annual Women in STEAM Fair at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill. I loved meeting the young girls and getting them excited about STEAM! This was a highlight for me because my passion in science centers around teaching and inspiring young minority students.

Us QEM interns attended the Lemelson Invention Ambassadors event, where different STEM entrepreneurs presented not only their work, but their difficult paths to success. I got to network with several of the Ambassadors, and received leadership insights for my own current and future endeavors.

Blog Post 7/14/17

Hey Everyone,

It’s Friday, and I’m so glad that you’re tracking along on my journey here in DC! So much happens in a week, but I definitely have a couple of highlights to share with you.

These pics are from a symposium I attended at the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Monday. (Excuse the poor picture quality)

This session blew my mind! It was led by Dr. Nichole Pinkard, who founded the Digital Youth Network, an initiative to foster digital literacy among Chicago’s inner-city youth. For those of you who know me well, you know that inner-city education is my passion! (sorry for the poor picture quality)

This session blew my mind! It was led by Dr. Nichole Pinkard, who founded the Digital Youth Network, an initiative to foster digital literacy among Chicago’s inner-city youth. For those of you who know me well, you know that inner-city education is my passion! (sorry for the poor picture quality)

This was a panel discussion on future technology for cities.

This was a panel discussion on future technology for cities.

And this pic is all about food! I tried Thai food for the first time this week with some friends. I basically wanted to try everything on the menu (ever have that problem?), but I decided on Coconut Curry Chicken. It was delicious!

Blog Bost 7/7/17

Hey Family and Friends,

Thanks for keeping up with my journey here in DC! Now that we’re officially in the month of July, I’m realizing that my internship is already halfway over, and if you’ve been keeping up with my blogs from the beginning...you’re awesome!!

This week was a little different than normal because of Independence Day. My fellow interns and I enjoyed a day off from work and were invited to Dr. Toldson’s home for a BBQ. For those of you who don’t know, Dr. Toldson is the President of the QEM Network. He and his wife were phenomenal hosts; they made us feel at home and served us a LOT of food (really though). There was even a pot of gumbo cooked by a true Louisianian. We finished the night watching fireworks from the balcony, and the view was AMAZING!

As far as work is concerned, I’ve been meeting even more incredible people. One of these individuals is Dr. Carter-Johnson. She’s the data scientist in my division, and her bachelor’s degree is in physics as well. I found out that Dr. Carter-Johnson also knows my mentor, Dr. Renee Horton from Louisiana. It truly is a small world!

Well, that’s all for this week folks. Thanks for reading :]

Blog Post 6/30/17

Happy Friday Fam!

It’s hard to believe that another week of the summer has flown by already. If you’ve been keeping up with my weekly blog, you know that my time in D.C. has been marked with new experiences, people, and opportunities.

 However, in all the newness there has also been routine. The routine of morning workouts; the routine of working at the Foundation Monday through Friday; the routine of methodically working towards the completion of my summer research project. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. We’ve all heard that routine and discipline lead to long-term, sustained success. While that’s true, routine can serve many purposes; I’m realizing that it can also be the key to living a life full of firsts. So, you want to know a couple of firsts that I had this week? (I know you do, so check out my pics below ;]  

So, I’ve been identifying potential graduate programs as part of my individual growth plan (IDP). This week I had a chance to Skype the program director at UCF, which was a first for me. Fun fact is that he’s also from da Bayou!

For those of you who know me, I love sports! I had never been to a MLB baseball game before though. Wednesday, my fellow QEM interns and I watched the Washington Nationals crush the Chicago Cubs (sorry Cubs fans). Check out that view though!

Blog Post 6/23/17

  Ms. Crystal Emery, Director of Black Women in Medicine    

 

Ms. Crystal Emery, Director of Black Women in Medicine
 

 

Inspired is an understatement. This week I attended a Congressional Forum at the National Academy of Sciences (beautiful building and architecture btw!). I had the pleasure of viewing the brilliant documentary, Black Women in Medicine, recounting the stories of Black women who have persevered through the fires of racism, poverty, and discrimination in order to achieve their dreams. To me, this documentary wasn’t just another trip down history lane, but it resonated with my own personal experiences as a Black woman pursuing a STEM degree. Holding back the tears, I was reminded of the monumental mountains that my forerunners conquered through much difficulty, which is now a pathway that I get to travel upon. Don’t get me wrong, the statistics still shout the truths of disparity, and the discouragement hailed upon brown and black-skinned children from the very onset of their education is an issue we must face. Though I admit the reality of the gap between where things are now and where they should be, I also perceive a greater truth; I am a forerunner for the next generation. My current struggles equate to the future victories of those who will follow behind me.

Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the film is the fact that it was directed by Ms. Crystal Emery, who is also the founder of URU The Right to Be, Inc., a nonprofit production company on mission to inspire young minorities from underserved communities to get involved in STEM. Though Ms. Emery has a disability as a paraplegic, she is nevertheless making an indelible mark on the youth who need inspiration the most. This takes both fearlessness and selflessness-two traits that I chose to both pursue and possess throughout my lifetime. Stories like these evaporate my tiny excuses for not pursuing more and reminds me that my dreams are not my own. I’d say it was another perspective-shifting week here in D.C.

 

 

 

Blog Post 6/9/17

My first week at NSF has been absolutely amazing! Though there’s been a learning curve in figuring my way around the facility, defining my research project, and establishing norms in my daily work routine, I can honestly say that my perspective has significantly shifted during this short time. Specifically, I have been introduced to so many Black scientists working in various divisions of the Foundation; personally, I have never witnessed this before. Back home and even throughout my travels, I’ve yet to witness a sector where African Americans are holding influential positions in the proportion that I’ve seen here. I feel extremely proud and hopeful, especially knowing that these men and women are actively working on projects and programs to broaden diversity in STEM fields.

Another detail that I must highlight is the fact that the HRD staff has made my transition an easy one.  The coworkers in my directorate have not only welcomed me with open arms, but have taken an interest in personally helping me to get to the next level. Somehow daily interactions and introductions turn into meaningful conversations about graduate school and professional opportunities that I didn’t know existed.  I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to work with individuals whom I aspire to become like, and I hope to learn as much from them as possible in the coming weeks.  

Blog Post 6/16/17

Reflecting upon this week, I’m realizing that my experiences have had a common theme, which I will name web-spinning a.k.a. networking. Whether working on my research project, participating in professional development activities, or socializing with other interns, networking consistently serves as the focal point around which my progress is sustained.

In particular, I had the opportunity to work off-site today at the American Center for Physics in College Park, MD. I made successful strides in my research simply because of the quality of collaboration between the PhysTEC team and myself. It was both exciting and helpful to discuss the facets of my project with people in the same field; furthermore, in the process of receiving help, I was also able to assist them in their work. I’m beginning to understand networking in a magnitude that I’ve never perceived before. I see that its potency goes beyond maximizing individual time and effort; it can also exponentially increase value through the sharing of resources, expertise, and perspectives.

 At the Tri-Caucus Reception, networking translated beautifully in a different setting, helping me to accomplish my goals, some of which I didn’t know I had until I engaged in conversation. Though these students work in the mainstream political sector, I met so many interns whom I found to be like-minded. Specifically, I met two individuals who are running their own non-profits, and we resonated on being pioneers and leaders of organizations, as well as the demographics that we’re passionate about reaching.

The last experience I’ll highlight from the week centers around a conversation that I had with Dr. Geraldine Cochran. I briefly mentioned her in my “rundown” document at QEM professional development, but Dr. Cochran spent time to answer all of my questions concerning a graduate program that I’ve been thinking about pursuing. Additionally, she provided me with pivotal contacts of researchers in the field, whom I could reach out to for further information. In this way, she acted as a network for me by spinning connections between her world and my own.

Had it not been for my mentor, Dr. Rankins, I wouldn’t have been able to access the leaders of PhysTEC, who are now collaborating with me on my research project; without Dr. Cochran’s advice, I wouldn’t have contacted the professors she referenced. Moving forward, I want to perpetuate this web-spinning by emulating those who have served me this week through selflessly offering connections. In order to accomplish this, I’m being intentional about establishing connections and building relationships. Only then will I have the power to spin a web between my own world and someone else’s.