Introduction

Let’s continue this theme with another Chemical Engineer, Rachel Patron. We are excited to share this STEM interview with you, and hope you will come back tomorrow for the next one.

A big thank you to Rachel for taking the time to provide us with her STEM story!

Livestreams - Recorded

May Interviews - #WomeninSTEM

The Interview - Rachel Patron

  • Name: Rachel Patron
  • Age group: 22-25
  • STEM Field of Study (or profession): Chemical Engineering

Do you have a favorite quote? What is it and who is it from?

If we understood something just one way, we would not understand it at all. - Marvin Minksy


Personal Experience

Q: What was (or is) your favorite subject in school and why?

Rachel: “Chemistry was my favorite subject because it felt like math, logic, and craftiness all in one subject. I loved seeing the demonstrations and understanding why.”

Q: What was your daily routine like (in school, work, or at home). How might this have impacted/influenced your participation in STEM?

Rachel: “I was fortunate enough to take summer school every summer in middle school. I was able to experience algebra before my classmates and took a neuroscience class in seventh grade. There was always so many interesting things to learn so getting curious and staying curious was key.”

Q: Describe the first time you heard about STEM, why was this an appealing thing to be a part of?

Rachel: “I don’t know the first time I heard about STEM. My parents are STEM people so I’ve been around it my whole life.”

Q: When was the first time you became actively involved in STEM? Do you recall a specific project or initiative?

Rachel: “I did academic decathlon in middle school. It may have seemed nerdy but a lot of my friends did it. We were competitive, so we stayed engaged.”

Q: How have your beliefs, motivations and aspirations changed over time? When did a career in STEM become a priority or choice?

Rachel: “STEM has never really been a choice for me. It’s something I always knew I was going to do. I am learning more about how STEM operates within and on society. STEM is a great tool for mobility but can stratify society. It’s important to be aware of that.”

Q: Who has served as an ‘influencer’ in your path to a STEM focused education and/or career?

Rachel: “My high school math and chemistry teachers were great inspirations along the way.”

Q: Are hobbies in STEM important? What about hobbies in general? Can you share some of your hobbies that may (or may not) have contributed to your STEM involvement?

Rachel: “You should always have something that you enjoy whether that is a relevant or completely separate hobby! I like to draw which can help with spatial visualization and drafting designs.”


Women in STEM Impact

Q: What does STEM mean to you?

Rachel: “STEM means the application of technical to actualize change in the world.”

Q: Can you recall any times when you questioned your involvement in STEM because of your gender?

Rachel: “Sometimes, I will be the only women in the room but that’s changing.”

Q: What are some of the personal experiences - or compelling arguments - that have influenced your thinking around gender and STEM, and have motivated you to get involved in being an advocate for change?

Rachel: “It’s difficult to articulate something that is integral to my own identity. I am a woman. I want to do STEM. I am doing STEM. I suppose that’s all there is to it.”

Q: Do you have a network of women in STEM around you to share knowledge and remind you you are not alone? If so, how did you go about creating that network?

Rachel: “The engineering company I work at is at least half women. Companies that value diversity will attract diversity.”

Q: Are you involved/can you recommend any organization(s) that support Women in STEM (shoutouts)?

Rachel: “Women in Business is an organization that supports women in the San Diego area.”

Q: Are there any (YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, etc…) influencers out there who inspire you regularly? How/Why?

Rachel: “Simone Giertz - her technology and humor is wonderful.”

Q: Top three changes which could make life easier for Women in STEM?

Rachel: “These would make life easier for men as well. 1) More emotional intelligence in the work force. 2) Not only valuing the loudest talker. 3) Give truthful and honest feedback, even if it is not positive”


Advice to the younger you and women considering a career in STEM

Q: If you could go back and change one thing in your STEM path, what would that be?

Rachel: “Take the material science course. It’s so widely applicable.”

Rachel: “Talk to people who are in the field you’re interested in and the areas close to that field. Find a mentor and colleagues who are also interested in that area. Yes, I’m talking about networking.”

What’s Next?!

As a reminder, this week, we will be meeting with @Falkyou who is a web application developer, cybersecurity MS candidate and #sextech model from Pittsburg. To read more about this week’s interview, and to learn how to participate, be sure to checkout the 96Boards OpenHours website (update coming soon)! Countdown and instructions on how to join can be found there!

More information here: WI-STEM page has the schedule, go there!