Figuras Tectas

Title is Latin for “hidden figures” ๐Ÿ˜‰

I just came from watching a screening of the movie,ย Hidden Figures and… I feel so inspired by these women.

Okay first off, there was this lady sitting right in front of me who would not just sit stiff. AND she overreacted to everything that happened in the movie. She found every single thing funny, and when things were actually funny, she wouldn’t laugh. She danced to every single song and… it was just alot. I was so distracted by her. Even a girl behind me commented on the fact that not everything in the movie was funny…

But BESIDES that, the movie was absolute art.

I loved that it was based on a true story, the idea that these women are finally being recognized ย for all the work they did for NASA (Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson). It’s crazy just how much we go through history knowing some of the big-shot names, the huge supervisors of it all, yet the people working behind the magic are not recognized. For example, Rosalind Franklin is hardly ever mentioned in biology textbooks (though, I believe people are working to change that) because she was a woman just working in a lab. But her x-ray picture of DNA helped to ultimately find its true structure. But is she the one credited for it? Nope. Watson and Crick, the people who stole the x-ray picture off of her desk, were the ones who ended up getting the Nobel Prizes for the discovery. In that time, women were not allowed to receive Nobel Peace Prizes. Unfortunately, Franklin was not recognized until after she had died.

I did not even know about her until 9th grade of high school. All that time, I was told “Watson and Crick”, “Watson and Crick discovered DNA!” “Watson and Crick found the helical structure!”

Since the beginning of time, women have been over-worked and under-appreciated for the work they do. This movie just brought up so many more feelings within me about the idea of science and women in science, especially colored women.

These women did some incredible things for NASA. Without Katherine Johnson’s phenomenal mathematical skills, NASA would not have been able to put the first American man into space. Without Dorothy Vaughan, women probably would not fight for the right to demand a higher job title and higher status. Without Mary Jackson, colored women would probably not think it possible to become an aeronautical engineer, or an engineer at that. These women changed America’s (and the world’s) idea of the STEM field. America used to look through a black-and-white lens, but these women put color into it.

Over the past few weeks, I really thought about the idea of being a physics major. After taking physics last semester and being in my second semester, I realized just how much I love the science. It’s the only class that I actually have opened the textbook and actually enjoyed reading it. That has NEVER happened for me in a STEM class. I remember how back in high school, I was actually really good at physics. I was one of the few people in my class (only 3 of us) who passed the AP Physics exam.

Last week, I was walking down the physics hallway, and they showed a picture of their graduates. Their classes are TINY. Their graduating class is about 25 students (compared to my bio graduating class of over , and, to no surprise, they were all white males.

I was a little surprised at how small the department was, because the professors all seem like geniuses in the field, and they are all super enthusiastic about it. I would think that there would be more. NOPE.

I have also always been fascinated by the idea of an engineer, the idea of space, the idea of being able to take someone and send them out of the earth. I thought (and still think) aeronautical engineers are the coolest people on the planet. I remember going to the Aerospace museum in DC over Thanksgiving break 2015 and I was like a fat kid in a candy store.

The place was amazing!

They had airplanes hanging from the sky, biographies of the world’s most renown flights, they even had an entire exhibit dedicated to Amelia Earhart.

Now, no one really knows this, but Amelia Earhart is one of my favorite people in world history. I don’t know what it was, but her disappearance was the most fascinating thing to me. How did she just disappear and no one know where she was? When I was young, I used to come up with alternative ideas as to what may have happened to her. I thought that maybe she decided to reside at a nearby island.

I have always thought, “What if I became a physics major?”

First off, I would be highly under-estimated, like the women in the movie. None of the men thought that these women were worth much. They al prejudged their intelligence only to realize just how important and needed they are in the field.

Anyways, it’s still an idea.

Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green, a black female physicist who is breaking boundaries all over the place in STEM research, is my role model right now (besides Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie, of course), and she has me thinking, “Why don’t I just change my major?” she was the 76th black female in the US to get a PhD in Physics. I thought that was crazy. Where are the women? Why are the numbers so small?

Getting Excited About Science

For the past few weeks since I have been back to school from spring break, I have been donating a large amount of my time on the weekends to community service. I realized that it’s something that I really like to do, and it’s something that I have constantly done since I was little (even throughout high school). I thought it would be a good idea to get back into it.

Earlier this semester, my friend had introduced me into this one group on campus that is focused on community service and leadership. Some of the requirements of the group is to obtain about 250 hours of source through work, community service, clubs, and organizations that I had been involved in. At first, I was pretty sure that I had just eliminated my chances of being in the group because I realized that I never documented any of those hours.

It took me a while to muster enough effort and motivation to actually start thinking back to the amount of times that I had actually did community service. It turns out that I had done alot of it. I remembered volunteering last semester, and it still counted for this semester. I was super happy about that. I had volunteered at the inauguration of the university’s new president. That was really fun because I was a volunteer that guided people who needed special needs. I felt special, like I actually played a role in the inauguration. I remember volunteering only for the benefit of saying that I actually did it. I mean who could honestly say that they helped out with their president’s inauguration?

For whatever reason, at the time I felt like this inauguration would be memorable. And it certainly was, definitely for reasons that I would have never imagined.

Anyways, a few weeks ago, I helped out with another event on campus that was about increasing the amount of involvement of females in STEM fields. I had helped out last year, but those hours wouldn’t count. It didn’t matter. It was something that was always a joy for me to help out with. I fully believed in the fact that more girls needed to be exposed to STEM fields. Many times, the guys are the ones given the building toys and the computers and the video games and the technology. On the other hand, the girls are given the little kitchen sets and the dollhouses and the sewing kits. That’s only going to help them become good stay-at-home moms. There’s nothing wrong with that, but what if that girl wants to do something else? What if she would like to learn how to build and design things? What if she learned how to engage in combat? What if she knew how to build her own computer?

That’s the purpose of the organization that I worked with.

So college students are paired with 7th and 8th graders, and you become her “buddy” for the day. You take her around to different workshops and work with her aon different activities.

This year, I had a 7th grader who, I must say, really impressed me. She told me that she wanted to study Computer Science, just like how her dad did. She had already had programming experience from her dad who is a programmer for a very renown camera company. He has already shown both his daughter and son how to write code! Her dad went to MIT, and her mom was super nice.

We went to a workshop about bioluminescence. So they mixed a few chemicals together, and it glowed in the flask. I watched as they took a really long time measuring the chemicals and pouring them into flasks. They even took a super long time putting on gloves. It was the funniest thing to watch, because nowadays I could do all of that under a minute. It goes to show that all the abilities that we did learn were acquired…

After that, we went to this computer programming workshop about coding and making your own code to create your own animation. I was fascinated at first, and I now understood a little bit about how code worked, but it was sooo boring for me. I quickly fell asleep during it. I even had to excuse myself so I could walk around a little to stay awake. The girl I was with definitely had fun, especially since her mom, dad, and brother were right with her the entire time. They were having a jolly good time.

After that was another chemistry lab, which woke me up. It was all about polymers which was really cool. I learned about how you could easily break a CD once you put some esters (or was it ethers) on them. In the next one, we dissolved a styrofoam cup into a solution. The next once, we made some silly puddy. In the next one, we made this long polyester chain. Now that one was really cool because he showed me what exactly he did and how it worked. I came up to him after the experiment and asked for the mechanism. He asked how much organic chemistry I had taken, and I told him that I was finishing up my 2nd semester. It looked like his eyes had lit up, and he was like “Oh cool!”. so he showed me the mechanism which I was super amazed by because I had just taken a test on it. It was all about a substitution between an amide and a carboxylic acid. He even showed me how to make the bonds on a large scale, because apparently he was showing them the baby version way to make it. I was super intrigued by it.

So after that, it was time to go. I said goodbye to my buddy and her family after the closing ceremony (where she actually won something in the raffle! ๐Ÿ˜€ ), and I left.

This is honestly something that I plan to do every year that I am here. Maybe next year I’ll be on the planning committee. Though that will be a whole lot of work, I believe that I could do it.

I had

Two Passions in One Week

So many things have happened in the past week! I feel like I have started almost every post this way, but it’s true. College is starting to become a little more interesting.
So let me start with the most recent event.
I am still writing up my Genocide paper for my Anthropology class, and as I am writing about it, I have learned that I really do love learning about this subject. Any subject where a large amount of people died from either their government or an environmental force will catch my attention. I am writing about the Rwandan genocide that happened during the 1990s, and I have delved so far into the topic that I still have no idea how I am going to finish this paper. My professor gave me a 2-3 page limit, but I just cannot see how I can fit so much information within those boundaries.
I found this book online that talked about how war rape was such a huge thing during this genocide, and the book gave accounts of women who were victims of it. They shared their stories along with what happened to them during this time and how it has still affected them today. I was only given a few pages to read from the book, but now I am so interested in it that I am going to look for the book in the library. I now was to read so many more books about the women along with other victims of these happenings.
From my research, I have learned that about 250,000-500,000 women were raped by soldiers and the Hutu people. From that number, an astonishing 70% of those who lived tested HIV positive. I was shocked by these statistics, and it is still exceedingly hard to wrap my head around it.
It’s crazy to see how much you will learn by just reading.
And in the book, the women also shared how they all bore children from these rapes, and how hard it is for me to look at their children and not see the man who had raped them. I felt for these women, but I was even more moved by the fact that not a single woman chose to abort the pregnancy.
One thing that all the women seemed to do was place their children before their own lives. They all held a deep fear that they would die before their children and they would be left as orphans. I wondered what their government was doing to save these children and to help their people. Was the government still in denial that the genocide had even happened? Did they even want to help their people?
I have been searching for a club on campus that would begin a fund to help these women who were victims of war rape and who now have children that they must take care of. I have also been searching for a club that will inform people on the effects of genocide. I don’t believe that people know the severity and that people even know that genocide is predictable and preventable.
Maybe I should be the one to start the group. Maybe that’s the group that my school is looking for, though we already have too many clubs to even count.

 

The other passion that I found was a passion for chemistry. Now, many people call me crazy for actually calling Orgo my favorite class. Since high school, I have heard the horror stories involving organic chemistry and molecules.

But then I got to the class… and I was pleasantly surprised.

I loved it!

I loved the molecules that we are learning, and I love how we can synthesize anything we want after taking only one full year of organic chemistry. It was like candy for me.

I knew that I was always into making things. I loved working with my hands.

I have always loved DIY projects, I built toy houses for my dolls. I would create posters. I loved when science fair came around when I was little because I loved designing my display board. I loved crocheting and making new things. I loved fixing things too such as anytime when something was broken in the house. I loved using tools. I also kept a little collage of pictures that I drew where I designed my own pumps and heels. I loved arts and crafts.

I just loved working with my hands.

I think that is why I love orgo so much, and the lab that goes with it. I love how I can mix different chemicals together to create different molecules. I loved how I could make structures depending on the solvents I used. It was all really fun for me.

This is why I want to double major in chemistry and biology, but I honestly believe that I am hanging onto biology only because I have already fulfilled most of the requirements for it.

I love everything about it, and I am so excited to take more class in it.

So here are my two passions, and boy, does it feel good to find things that you love.

Hopefully, I can come back and read these posts to remember what I love.