By Emily Adcock, WiSci STEAM Camp participant
Today is our last day in Rwanda, and a few of us got up to watch the sunrise for the last time. As I was reflecting on the past three weeks, I whimsically connected my experience to the sunrise before me. A sunrise universally symbolizes a new beginning. To me, this sunrise was the beginning of a new chapter in my life. In this chapter, my self-concept and global outlook have developed in so many ways, some of which I have yet to realize.
You've probably heard the phrase, "If you don't believe in yourself, nobody will", and I stood by this expression before my journey, but I now believe this is not always the case. Prior to the STEAM Camp I honestly did not believe that I was capable of pursuing a career in engineering or computer science. I had never taken an engineering or computer science course before and hadn't planned to. While at the camp I not only gained the technical skills needed in these fields, but gained the confidence I needed. Learning about how technology is changing the world and all of the amazing things that women like Mae Carol Jemison have done and are doing in STEM fields inspired me, and I can now proudly say that I would love to be an engineer! In fact, I am currently taking a biomedical engineering course and am looking at colleges with strong engineering programs. This would not have happened without the support and encouragement from everyone at WiSci, and without constantly being told that I am talented, intelligent, capable, and worth investing in. This new-found confidence is not only applicable to my interest in STEM, but every other aspect of my life. I feel mentally and physically stronger, and I find happiness in celebrating myself. I want others to know that I am proud of who I am and who I can become. Perhaps most importantly, I learned how to put all of this into action so that I can bring positive change to my community.
While my confidence has heightened, I have also been extremely humbled. I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from and grow with the extraordinary people at WiSci. Sometimes, especially in America, privilege is overlooked or neglected. I think that it is important for us to not only recognize the obstacles we face, but to take advantage of the opportunities we have to eliminate these obstacles. I want to take advantage of the opportunities I have as an American to study STEM, and ultimately to eradicate gender discrepancies in these fields. In addition, I have gained a sense of humility from surrounding myself with such incredible people. I learned what it means to be effortlessly kind, carelessly courageous, meaningfully eloquent, and I saw passion in action. I strive to one day develop these virtues, and as I do I will remember the WiSci girls.
No matter where you are, the sun rises. The sun that I see is the same sun that Dadou and Charlotte see, the same sun my counselors see, my instructors see, my family at home sees, and the same sun billions more see. Even if I never get the chance to visit these friends again, I can watch the sunrise and know that there are people out there who believe in me and who I believe in, and that together we will change the world.
Emily Adcock is a senior at the North Carolina School of Science and Math in Durham, North Carolina. She serves as co-founder and president of the NCSSM Girl Up club, as well as a Sustainability Project Leader. Her hobbies include playing French horn and Ultimate Frisbee. She hopes to pursue a career combining social justice, global health, and environmental engineering.