Initiating an Impact
Written by Mehak Dureja, SDSU Chapter Member
As women in STEM, we constantly hear subtle remarks about our career choices, phrases such as “doesn’t that require 4 years of grad school? When are you going to have time to get married and have kids?” or,“you’re too pretty to be a science major” are all too common. We get questioned by others about why we chose such a rigorous path, causing us to second guess our own career choices- at least, I know I definitely have. It isn’t easy living in a world where our abilities are being challenged at every turn...
My freshman year I was faced with these challenges. After my first semester, I was mentally drained and was ready to give up on majoring in STEM, because everyone was telling me that I was not cut out for the field. Luckily, that's when I found out about the Women in Science Society. Since I was on the verge of giving up anyways, I thought- why not try something new, what do I have to lose? Now I am eternally grateful for WSS because through it, I have found an empowering group of women that I know will be there to support me and my fellow women in science throughout the rest of our undergraduate careers.
Each one of our members has a story like mine. A sophomore biology major said that “at the beginning of this semester I was pretty sure I was going to switch to business because I was worried I wasn’t good enough to be in STEM, but WSS really inspired me to keep going and reminded me why I chose science in the first place”.
If there’s anything I’ve learned by talking to our members, it’s that you are not a STEM major if you have not at one point questioned your choice of the major! WSS fosters a sense of community that lets members know that feeling this way is completely normal. We all struggle at times, but that is not reflective of our self worth or our ability to succeed in the sciences.
One of our other members said, “little did I know, the opportunities WSS provides would pave the way to the life I had always dreamed of, but had never known how to grasp. Overall, WSS has given me the confidence and knowledge needed to be successful in a field where I have been told I do not belong. This club gave me the foundation for a future that I know I can continue to build upon myself; confident that I don't have to rely on my parents, my circumstances, or let alone a man”.
In my first semester as a member, WSS provided me with opportunities that I never thought I was capable of pursuing, let alone deserved. I was able to shadow an amazing orthopedic surgeon, attend a life changing STEM conference in New York City, and made connections that can guide me through my future endeavors. Now, all this does not mean that my doubts and worries had suddenly vanished, but joining WSS made me realize that if I ever questioned my abilities again, I could seek advice from these women, rather than resort to giving up.
WSS makes an active effort to teach members that our success as a science major is not just determined by the grades we earn in our undergraduate courses, or how high we score on the MCAT or GRE, but by our ability to learn from our experiences. As WSS members, we have unique opportunities to network with faculty, attend conferences, and participate in events that allow us to develop leadership skills and make the connections necessary to take control of our potential. Not only have these opportunities contributed to our members’ academic and professional success, but they also give us all the self confidence needed to pursue other opportunities in our fields of interest that may be outside of our comfort zones.
Overall, WSS has created a safe haven for not only myself, but all the women in science at my school, where we can share our hardships and be met with understanding, encouragement and support. I am eternally grateful for WSS, and cannot wait to see how I will continue to grow through this organization alongside our other inspiring and intelligent members.
- Mehak Dureja