Just EPIC: Empowering our Peers to Innovate and Collaborate

Contributed by Tara Gupta and Lorena Harris

Brite was a great experience for us at SUNY Schenectady STEAM Academy. It is always inspiring to feel connected to a bigger world. In times of isolation, it was uplifting to connect with so many friends and different communities around the United States. We feel inspired by so many amazing girls and STEMfeminists.  Tara got inspired because she got to learn about all the amazing things going around in the digital world, and she learned from all these amazing women who are making the world a better place! Tara’s favorite speaker was Dorothy Tovar because she really liked what she was studying.  Dorothy studied bats, which then connected to humans. She was fascinated by antiviral immune responses in bats and their ability to host and transmit viruses deadly to humans without actually hurting/getting the bats sick! The connection between Immunology and Microbiology blew Tara away! Another thing Tara loves about her is her way to communicate and inform the public about the best ways to prevent the spread! Tara never knew bats were such fascinating creatures until now when Dorothy had talked about her study! 

Nicole Stott power poseLeomani’s favorite speaker was Leslie Townsell, she was her favorite speaker because she is doing research in Marine Biology Oysters to understand the Oysters' ability to clean the ocean's water. Leomani really liked that all the speakers achieved amazing goals and are wonderful role models to be inspired and follow. Makayla R mentioned she had an amazing second-time experience, she was inspired by the power of two. My favorite speaker was Astronaut and Artist Nicole Stott, she made my day when she mentioned that her favorite place to paint from the Space (ISS) was this amazing beautiful archipelago (el Archipiélago de los Roques en Venezuela) that was the first watercolor paint she made from the International Space Station. I almost cried after seeing the picture (I related to her favorite place on Earth, I was born in Venezuela). Then, she touched my heart even more once she mentioned the collaboration with the Cirque Du Soleil founder and philanthropist  Guy Laliberté and the ONE DROP Foundation, there is just one word for me that day inspired!

Quotes we loved from our Brite experience, learning this summer together has been inspiring and motivating. We are forever grateful. Our big picture and lesson learned are summarized in these two quotes:

“You learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a lifetime of conversation.” - Plato

“Getting out of your comfort zone is good, it is actually great!" - Brite Role model

Did you have an "Aha! moment" during this Brite program? Which one? 

We did, we know we can believe in ourselves, stay focused and trust our own abilities.

We are so grateful, thank you Brite NGCP team. We will be forever thankful for being our Summer highlight! Last but not least, I am forever grateful to each of our BriteCSTEPeers, you all rock!!! Special thanks to Tara Gupta for co-writing this piece.

Tara Gupta is a Middle School and Taekwondo student. She is very dedicated, loves STEM, and goes to Niskayuna Central School District, Iroquois Middle School, Schenectady NY.

Lorena Harris Ph.D., CSTEP and LSAMP Director from SUNY Schenectady County Community College. She is a member of NYS Girls Collaborative, Schenectady STEM Alliance, NGCP, AAAS, and ACS. She is the 2019 Margaret Ashida STEM Leadership Award recipient, educator, mom, and a FabFem Role Model.