Shortly after I began my undergraduate career as an Aerospace Engineering major at the University of Michigan, I joined a group of ambitious classmates to create a math and science mentoring program for teens. Our mission was to Reach Out! to close the math and science achievement gap. During the day, I was staring at the bright lights in a propulsion laboratory and in the afternoon I was staring at another type of bright light in a local area high school. It was the bright light of those young people that captured my interest the most. It was my wish to help their lights shine brighter that convinced me to chart a tangential course. When I told my mom that I wanted to change my career aspirations from STEM to STEM education, she wasn’t surprised. You see, education, people, and optimism for a brighter tomorrow have always been my truest motivation.
My professional work, academic scholarship, and service have been motivated by a singular motivation to increase the diversity of the next generation of scientists. I have 12 years of experience in the evaluation and research of formal and informal STEM education and active research interest in the convergence of psychological, cultural, and organizational factors that broaden STEM participation and persistence. I have co-authored chapters in the APA Educational Psychology Handbook, the Handbook of Motivation at School, and the Evaluation and Program Planning peer-reviewed journal, along with numerous reports that aid program leaders to integrate findings into practice and policy.
Academically, I have spearheaded federally-funded STEM research projects, utilizing my interdisciplinary research training in developmental sciences gleaned from my pre-doctoral fellowship at the Carolina Consortium on Human Development (CCHD) and my graduate research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Professionally, I have led the evaluation of STEM education and college-access initiatives for a portfolio of projects, including Investing in Innovation (i3), Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP), Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs North Carolina (GEAR UP NC), and Minority Science & Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP). My work has been funded by NSF, the US Department of Education, the Institute of Education Sciences, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. I am deeply committed to increasing the methodological rigor of STEM intervention studies through the application of innovative interdisciplinary and culturally responsive research designs. In my current role, I head the design and implementation of longitudinal, multisite studies with data collection procedures that adhere to Institutional Review Board requirements.
For me, the key is creating spaces where all people are free to be the best version of themselves in service to the greater good.