The Change I Want to Bring to the World
As a space that caters to the male audience and heteronormative ideals, academia is in need of more representation of women, LGBTQ+, and people of color. The scientific research space in particular suffers from heteronormative attitudes, depoliticization, and the minimization of self-expression. Such rhetoric hinders identity expression, especially among communities viewed as “too loud” or “too political.” As a queer Asian woman in STEM, I aim to break down these expectations within academia and to help create a space where queer individuals are not only visible but also celebrated for their contributions to science.
How I’ve Been Involved in Changemaking So Far
I aim to leverage a bottom-up leadership, for I believe everyday actions undertaken by conscientious young people serve as units of change. As a Residence Don at the University of Toronto, I helped support over forty students in the Life Sciences Living Learning Community by fostering a safe and comfortable space to talk about difficult topics such as identity struggles, mental health, and academic concerns. As the previous Outreach Chair for the Student Society for Stem Cell Research Conference (SSSCR) Executive Team at the University of Toronto, I sought to expand the diversity of our speaker panel by inviting more researchers from underrepresented communities to speak at the annual SSSCR Stem Cell Conference. Given that many aspiring scientists attend conferences such as SSSCR’s annual conference, it is crucial to ensure minority visibility.
What Drew Me to This Fellowship
The Mentora Youth Changemaker Fellowship uniquely focuses on internal changemaking before looking toward external changemaking. I am drawn to this fellowship because I greatly appreciate its approach: I believe changemakers must first understand themselves by reflecting on their strengths and weaknesses, dissecting their motivations and values, and shaping a clear personal mission. As someone whose intersectional identities are central to my person, I am excited by the Mentora emphasis on the personalization of the changemaking journey. I appreciate how this personalization is balanced with rigorous scientific research as detailed by Dr. Hitendra Wadhwa’s three-pronged Inner Mastery|Outer Impact curriculum. Through the change project, I will have the opportunity to apply the skills and foundational knowledge acquired through the fellowship.
I also hope to delve into the narratives of each Fellow and to learn from their unique thinking and lived experiences. I believe such an environment will lead to insightful discussions from diverse perspectives, exposure to different cultures, and growth within a community of highly motivated individuals.