On April 15, Minorities in S.T.E.M. (MiSTEM) hosted the annual (Overcoming) Failure Dinner. MiSTEM is an organization that advocates for the representation of minority groups in S.T.E.M. fields as well as holds discussions on the issues faced by those from minority communities. The organization also works to provide a safe space for these students. The dinner started in 2019 by the organization, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was held online this year.
The dinner lifted its curtains with the incoming MiSTEM president, Katiasofia Gonzales ’23, introducing the organization. It followed with a personal story shared by President Sarah Bolton. “You took my summer internship because you were a woman” was something Bolton heard regularly from her male peers in college. Followed by her failure on a midterm in a physics class her sophomore year, she started to think that she was not good enough for physics and needed to change to a different major. She explained how she dealt with the situation and how it shaped her as a person. Bolton emphasized that this experience helped her recognize whose voices were being heard, and who was present for discussions about this inequality.
Dr. Ivonne García, the inaugural chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at the College, also shared her personal experience with failure and how it changed and shaped her life path. During her speech, she mentioned one of her professor’s comments that completely tore her apart. It affected her so negatively that she not only had to leave law school but also had to start learning to walk and drive all over again. “I was learning to walk and drive again as a 26 year old woman,” García said. However, she also mentioned how she found things she loves doing, like her current job in Wooster.
MiSTEM then introduced Kara Melrose, the S.T.E.M. Success Initiative coordinator. She shared a story from her very first job at a school in New Orleans where she was teaching middle school science. While teaching, so much of her time and energy was spent on controlling the students and trying to gain their respect that she was barely teaching the students any science or math. Melrose then shared how that experience helped her to become the mentor that she is today.
The moderators of the event were outgoing co-presidents of MiSTEM Emma Saxton ’22 and Emma Davidson ’22. Both presidents shared their individual stories of failure and how it illuminated their lives. In order to provide students and faculty a more intimate and safe space to talk about their experiences, the event moved on to breakout rooms. Each room consisted of several faculty members and students who could share their own accounts of failure, how they overcame them and the impact these experiences had on their lives. This event was great for bringing together all attendees and to help everyone feel a little less alone as minorities in S.T.E.M..