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The talkSTEM Young Professionals Group launched Fall of 2019 and strives to provide a growing network of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) professionals interested in improving STEAM education.

We achieve this by providing networking socials, committee leadership positions, and opportunities to engage and support local K-12 students through after school and outreach programming.

The talkSTEM Young Professional Group is unique in collaborating across disciplines, professions, organizations and corporations to achieve the goal of improving STEM education for underrepresented students. The membership of the talkSTEM YPG is diverse, and each member has a different reason for joining and unique perspective of STEM.

This blog post is a look into the STEM journeys taken by some YPG members, and how these have affected their professional and personal lives.

Young professionals in any field interested in improving STEM education can email info@talkstem.org to join the talkSTEM YPG. Follow us on LinkedIn and our Facebook Page to stay up to date with our projects.

Why did you join the talkSTEM YPG?

“I joined this YPG as I believe it is a great initiative and  way to involve and get people excited about STEM. The talkSTEM YPG offers kids of all ages the opportunity to hear and learn about the  journey followed by many professionals. I think the mission is important to stimulate the young minds of people and potentially drive people into creating and making a difference to our world.” – Vijay Kishnani, Cyber Security Specialist at PwC

Vijay Kishnani

“This YPG interested me because it was unique in having a network across many fields- not solely tech, computer science, or for a particular company. I appreciate the opportunities to directly aid the local young women and underserved students in the community. It is a rare opportunity to help with their STEM journeys in this way.” – Mary Casillas, Science Educator

How did you get into a STEM Career?

“I have always enjoyed math and science at a young age, my dad would stay up with me and teach me new ways to work math problems instead of learning just one way. Math was fun and in a chaotic world it makes sense. Growing up I had many people tell me that my personality was too outgoing for certain professions and because of that I wanted to prove them wrong. I am a young women, who is an Assistant Director of an academic research center that focuses on international and domestic policies. I have the opportunity to combine marketing, strategy, and analytics in my current role. I am leading cross-functional teams to foster innovation and drive solutions.” – Bora Laci, Assistant Director of Programs and Director of Studies at SMU Tower Center

“I  got into STEM from a very young age. I was always interested in building things ranging from lego to computers. I was a curious boy and wanted to understand how things were built and how they worked. This led me to pursue a career in computer science on building apps and more importantly engaging individuals together.” –Vijay Kishnani, Cyber Security Specialist at PwC

talkSTEM Young Professional Group member
Mary Casillas

Mathematics was actually my least favorite subject all the way up until junior year of high school. What finally got me interested were YouTube channels such as Numberphile and 3blue1brown whose videos explain the elegance of math and its utility in real-world contexts. I ended up majoring in mathematics and pursued a career in machine learning, a field that intersects statistics and computer science.”  –Josh Ke, Data Scientist at Citi

What hooked me was the huge potential that lies within STEM as a skill. I think there is miscommunication that STEM is an acronym that defines the course subjects – but we now know STEM is actually a skill that can be learned, practiced, and shared, just like any other skill. And that is very exciting to me. ” – Mary Casillas, Science Educator

What were some middle school memories that contributed to your interest in STEM?

“In middle school, my favourite class and teacher was in  Chemistry. I was fascinated with the idea that a couple of compounds combined could drive a reaction and create something different and new. I took this idea into my degree at university with computer science. With app development I could create instructions to a computer that could  be used by many people with the goal to make a difference and provide some  form  of usability and experience to the user.”-Vijay Kishnani, Cyber Security Specialist at PwC

“In middle school my two favorite classes were science and art, and I was aware at a fairly young age that I wanted a career that involved both science and art. I had fantastic science and art teachers that challenged me to sharpen my skills in these areas. However, it seemed that the school system was not created for interdisciplinary interests. I was discouraged from pursuing both science and art and was asked me to choose one or the other, especially when lining up schedules for high school. I was told I needed to focus my interests so that I would be successful academically and later starting a career. Luckily, I pursued both anyway.” – Mary Casillas, Science Educator

talkSTEM Young Professional Group 1
Bora Laci

What hobbies do you have outside of work?

“Outside my job, I love to bake different kinds of cakes, cookies, and cupcakes.  I also love to be out in nature, anything from hiking to camping. You can always find me outside working, reading or working out.”- Bora, Laci Assistant Director of Programs and Director of Studies

“My favourite hobbies  outside work  are playing tennis and football and I have just started getting into kickboxing and learning to play the guitar.” –Vijay Kishnani, Cyber Security Specialist at PwC

“My hobbies include playing the guitar, working out, and admiring sneakers.” – Josh Ke, Data Scientist at Citi

“My favorite past times are to paint, explore the outdoors, and play video games. I volunteer often as a scientific illustrator for science communication projects and publications.” – Mary Casillas, Science Educator

STEM careers and professions vary greatly, along with the individual’s journey. You may relate to their memories, and you may not. The beauty of STEM is there is not one single, predestined path. By sharing some of their perspectives, the talkSTEM Young Professional Group hopes to redefine who does STEM, where STEM is, and how to get into STEM.

talkSTEM Young Professional Group
Josh Ke

Join the talkSTEM Young Professionals Group

You can learn more about the talkSTEM Young Professional Group’s mission and objectives by clicking here. If you are interested in joining this group, please email info@talkstem.org. Follow us on LinkedIn and our Facebook Page to stay up to date with our projects.

Please sign up to join our community and receive notifications about new content. We share perspectives of thought leaders in the STEM learning ecosystem as well as talkSTEM’s original content. It’s all designed to engage and inspire our youth and to grow strong STEM ecosystems everywhere!

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About the Founder & CEO

Dr. Koshi Dhingra has dedicated her career to STEM education and is passionate about having every child live up to their potential. Seeing a lack of girls and other underrepresented youth in STEM programs, she founded talkSTEM in 2015 to address the imbalance. She has a doctorate in science education from Teachers College, Columbia University, has years of experience teaching in graduate and undergraduate programs, and has held leadership roles in universities. She advises and collaborates with a broad range of educational institutions globally. Dr. Dhingra began her career teaching science in middle and high school in New York. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, three children, and two dogs.

Join Our Community

Please sign up to join our community and receive notifications about new content. We share perspectives of thought leaders in the STEM learning ecosystem as well as talkSTEM’s original content. It’s all designed to engage and inspire our youth and to grow strong STEM ecosystems everywhere!

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