As part of NGCP's 20th Anniversary celebrations, we will be interviewing influential equity and STEM leaders and partners throughout 2022.
NGCP Board Member Shihadah Saleem is the Director of Youth Programs and Pathways at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, NY. Fresh out of graduate school, Shihadah joined the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (2007-2008) as Museum educator and has worn many hats, as an informal educator, from providing tours and workshops for K-12 audiences to managing, developing, and facilitating teacher professional developments, hospital schools, co-founding GOALS for Girls, and teen/youth programs. For over 10 years, Shihadah has provided rich STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and youth development programs and opportunities for students, parents, and the community.
What excites you most about your work?
The many opportunities to develop relationships and collaborate with diverse people and organizations in the STEM field. I am also re-invigorated by what I learn, discover and ultimately grow as I explore ways to increase youth awareness and opportunities in the STEM fields. These relationships provide unique and exciting insights into the fields and further strengthens the intersectionality of content, skills, development and pathways.
What do you most appreciate in a collaborator?
I appreciate their growth mindset, insight, and work ethic. Their ability to respectfully envision a holistic and macro approach towards STEM education and enrichment for youth and communities of color. inclusive of the ability to also work within spaces that require immediate attention, feedback and support from various stakeholders and can positively execute projects, activities, and/or workshops with intention.
Who are your role models?
My role models are my mother, the students/families I serve and my colleagues in the STEM spaces/fields. My mother because she is the pinnacle of hard work, perseverance and unconditional kindness. The students/families I serve in STEM education, development and opportunities because they help to keep their needs, mission objectives and overall trends in the forefront of my work. My colleagues help me to shape and expand my engagement abilities, ways of thinking, and fine tuning my presentation, communication and writing skills to further the work in STEM and youth development.
What advice would you give to the NGCP community?
The advice I would give to the NGCP community is to continue to provide diverse people, especially Black and Brown people with opportunities to hold leadership roles and support their movement "up the ladder". To interrogate language and/spaces that are intentionally or unintentionally creating barriers or acting as gatekeepers to knowledge, development and high echelon positions with equal and equitable rights. When society, the workplace, or your community becomes hostile, racist, biased and/or mean, visually support Black and Brown people by becoming a mentor or role model, be empathetic in understanding the journey isn't easy, be an intentional ally that's in it for the long haul and speak up.