Beyond the Title: Lessons Learned Outside My Comfort Zone

Contributed by Lauren Scofield

“Move out of your comfort zone.  You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”  -Brian Tracy

Miss MontanaI am exhilarated by stepping out of my comfort zone and seeking new adventures. Taking a step into STEM has been a huge leap out of my comfort zone that continues to challenge me daily and it is this passion that has led me to various unexpected avenues. My passion for science led me to Carroll College: a private, liberal arts school in Helena, Montana. Carroll College is well known for its spectacular pre-medical program and cutting edge science laboratory technology. I attended Carroll to adequately prepare for medical school and expand my STEM knowledge, so I majored in Biochemistry-Molecular Biology and minored in Gender Studies. I graduated in May of 2016 and then quickly ventured down a new and exciting path by becoming Miss Montana 2016. It was this huge leap out of my comfort zone that allowed me to truly discover myself and the depth of the passion I have for STEM.

Nerdy Is Sexy
I made the choice to enter into the Miss Montana Scholarship program because of the opportunity it would open for me to serve my state and nation in a unique way. The title of Miss Montana would grant me the ability to choose a personal platform to endorse for my year as a titleholder. I naturally chose STEM as my platform with the goals of planting the seeds of STEM in the minds of young students and helping to create a pipeline of innovative leaders in Pageant Arrivalthe future workforce. Shortly after my crowning, I realized how immense of an impact I would be able to have on the STEM community. I discovered that I would be talking to nearly 37,000 students about the excitement and importance of the STEM fields as I encouraged them to think critically and lead innovatively. 

Becoming involved in the pageant world has been an unanticipated way to become a STEM advocate, but I have been surprised by the support surrounding women in STEM. I absolutely believe we are now living in a world where beauty and brains do not have to be seen as opposites, but instead we are moving toward the idea that being nerdy is sexy. At the Miss America Competition, I was named one of five STEM scholarship finalists and I have been able to use this experience as evidence of women utilizing their intelligence to reach their goals.  

Finding Comfort from Failure                                             
This experience has taught me that a love for STEM can create a love for being uncomfortable. In the ever-growing world of science, technology, engineering, and math it is important that our young girls learn how to be comfortable with the unknown. My favorite lesson to teach the students that I talk to is the importance of persevering through failure. STEM poster

Not only is learning through failure important, but recognizing the endless possibilities that STEM offers is even more important. Every passion can intertwine and open new avenues and possibilities. It is important for young women to receive encouragement to pursue all of their passions, and if this passion is STEM, that does not have to define all of their interests. While these innovative fields create constant opportunity for growth, they also can be confining. As a woman in biochemistry, I found that it was difficult for me to explore my other interests such as music, fashion, and social issues. It was not until I declared a gender studies minor, and dove into this area of study, that I recognized how my various passions could work together and create my goal to one day be an OB/GYN. Being in the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology will allow me to practice my love of science and medicine, while utilizing the knowledge I have about gender and sexuality. By breaking down these walls and moving out of this comfort zone, the world of STEM can continue to grow creatively and uniquely. 

Lauren Scofield was named Miss Montana 2016. Originally from Havre, she moved to Helena to attend Carroll College. She graduated this past spring with a degree in Biochemistry-Molecular Biology with a minor in Gender Studies. She plans to obtain a Doctorate of Medicine with a specialty ob Obstetrics and Gynecology. Her passion for science is the drive behind her personal platform "STEM/Creating a Pipeline of Innovative Leaders." She looks forward to promoting her platform and encouraging innovative and creative thinking in the minds of Montana youth.