As Black History Month comes to an end, we will continue to celebrate every day African Americans’ accomplishments and contributions to science, education, and the impacts they have made on generations to come.
Jasmine Nelson, a senior at John Carroll University studying Computer Science and a Software Engineering intern at Glenn Research Center, felt the influences of those who paved the way.
“My African American STEM-inspiration is Katherine Johnson. Katherine, a Black woman, born in the United States, was regarded as a computer long before computers were conceived. Katherine Johnson taught me to not let my race or gender hold me back from opportunities. Katherine, however, defied the racial and gender limitations of the time and became the first woman to be acknowledged as an author on a study paper in the Flight Research Division. Despite practically everything and everyone in her life telling her that she couldn’t achieve what she wanted, she opted to follow her passion nonetheless.”
Growing up, Jasmine didn’t see many people in STEM that looked like her. The names of famous Black scientists or engineers, let alone Black girls, were few and far between. “If at least one little Black girl sees me and thinks, “If she can do it, so can I!” then I have fulfilled my goal in life.”
Jasmine wants to inspire the next generation of Black women to follow their dreams no matter what challenges they face. “As a Black woman, there will be moments when you are the only Black person in the room, the only woman in the room, or often both. You may feel as though the settings were not designed for you, but I want young Black girls to realize that they have a place in any location that they qualify for, regardless of what others say.”
Jasmine can be her biggest cheerleader and her worst adversary. “Being a minority and a woman, you constantly feel like you have to put in extra effort or prove yourself to others that you are ‘worthy’ of being in the position you are in, to earn respect. What I’ve learned over time is that despite whatever misgivings others or myself may have about me, I’ve earned my seat at the table.”
Through her life and legacy, Jasmine wants to serve as a role model and an example of what Black women can accomplish. “Don’t be afraid to apply for jobs and internships in STEM, even if you may not think you are qualified for it. We often already have all the skills we need to achieve our dreams; we simply don’t realize it.”
Written by: Waryn R. Flavell