( ENSPIRE She Did That ) Sarah Adewumi Encourages the Future of STEM in Her Latest TEDx Talk
ENSPIRE Contributor: Gabrielle Maya
Sarah Adewumi is a young NASA scientist communicator and STEM advocate. Her passion is for providing young girls and youths the proper education to learn science and pursue leadership roles. Only a few schools have STEM programs or the educators they need. This former pageant queen is proving to young girls that you can be multifaceted with intelligence and unique beauty, shining through your life. Science education is more attainable for K-12 students across the United States on over four continents.
Adewumi is the founder of ‘Next Gen in STEM’, which is a nonprofit that empowers and promotes education in the STEM industry. She is a TEDx speaker and has hosted for the Emmy-award-winning team, NASA eClips, and created STEM-based episodes for VPM and PBS. One of her important goals is to spread the importance of diversity and inclusion within STEM, to break glass ceilings, and teach kids to be achievers. Who says femininity and intelligence are exclusive? Adewumi shares with us inside information about “Next Gen in STEM”, their programs, her Tedx Talks, inspiration, her pageant journey, and what it takes to pursue STEM.
In what ways have you promoted STEM for youths across the United States?
I promote STEM through educational outreach, speaking, and joining schools for fun experiments that engage youth across the U.S. to think deeper about STEM possibilities.
What are the essential goals of Next Gen in STEM?
The mission of NextGen in STEM is to inspire and empower the next generation of STEM leaders through connecting students with mentors, professional development organizations, and scholarship opportunities.
What do you think STEM programs should do in order to increase diversity and inclusion?
I think that STEM programs can highlight more women currently in the industry in order to highlight and encourage the next generation. If I had known how many phenomenal women were taking up space in the STEM field before I started working, I would have felt much more confident pursuing my STEM studies in college. That is why I think it’s so important for women in STEM’s voices and work to be amplified in programs and mainstream media – so that other young girls can realize that these role models are out there and understand that there is space for them in the STEM industry.
What have you talked about during your TEDx talks?
My TEDx Talk, “This is What a Scientist Looks Like”, encourages young girls and women to reimagine who they see in STEM roles. Through sharing my own experiences, I invite girls to imagine these careers for themselves, not despite their other passions, but rather regardless of them.
What individuals have inspired you?
I have been so inspired by the amazing women in leadership who have come before me, as well as my father who encouraged me to pursue a career in the STEM industry. I was around 8 when he brought me to ‘bring your child to work’ day and I still remember the activities we did, including making rockets out of water bottles, which helped to fuel my love for Aerospace.
What advice would you give those who want to pursue STEM?
One piece of advice that I think every STEM student should follow is to not be afraid to branch out and explore various opportunities in the STEM field! Don’t restrict yourself to just one path, especially if you don’t know exactly what career you want to pursue. By allowing yourself to explore – you could find that there are so many different avenues that you can take within the STEM industry and actually fall in love with a path that you didn’t know was possible until you tried it!
You were a former pageant queen, explain briefly about that journey and how it impacts your life today.
Having participated in many different pageant systems, I would say that pageants definitely shaped who I am as a woman, leader, and communicator. Now, as an advocate for women in STEM, my experiences as a former pageant queen gave me a unique perspective that I share with the young women that I speak with – showing them that they too can be multifaceted within the STEM industry.
Are there any TEDx speaker opportunities coming up?
Upcoming TEDx events are available on the official TED.com website for participants and attendees to view.
Sarah Adewumi is a young force for women and scientists. Young girls can take inspiration and follow that educational path through NASA or STEM. For more information about her TEDx speaker opportunities, STEM reaches out, and future updates, follow her Instagram. If you want more information about her nonprofit ‘Next Gen in STEM’, go to her site.
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