This past Friday, Nov. 12, Minorities in STEM, otherwise known as MiSTEM, held their annual Overcoming Failure Dinner, colloquially known as the Failure Dinner. MiSTEM is a student-run organization that strives to promote involvement of underrepresented students in STEM. One of the main goals of MiSTEM is to bridge the gap between students and faculty. In bridging this gap, the College would aid students in reaching their full potential, whether they are STEM majors or only taking introductory courses. As Natalie Belle ’23, secretary of MiSTEM put it, “Our goal was to create a space where we can facilitate a healthy conversation with students and faculty about failure and how we overcome it. We wanted to emphasize that everybody has moments in their lives – personal, professional, and academic – where they fail, and that those moments contribute to who we are.” When asked about her thoughts on the MiSTEM failure dinner, Melita Wiles ’22 a physics and mathematics double major, said that “the overcoming failure dinner held by MiSTEM has been one of the most relatable and inclusive events on campus, this and every year that I have been at Wooster.”
The annual MiSTEM Failure Dinner aims to bring students and faculty together in a conversation about the stigmatized topic of failure. During this event, speakers have the opportunity to share stories of their failures and start an open dialogue about how these failures have contributed to their successes. Past speakers have included President Sarah Bolton, faculty from the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and executive board members of MiSTEM. Wiles said that “President Bolton started off by describing her own personal story on failure as an undergraduate woman in physics. This made me emotional right from the beginning because I am an undergraduate woman in physics, and the degree is not always smooth sailing.” Students also had the opportunity to discuss their experiences with failure in the field. Wiles talked about her friend and classmate, Raisa Raofa ’23, saying that she “spoke about the importance of a good community within your discipline.” Oftentimes, failure is highly stigmatized and looked down upon in academia, especially in STEM. This perception has a strong impact on minorities in the STEM field, due to the other undue pressures that are already put upon them. The event is viewed as a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the failures that are so often viewed as undesirable and inadequate.
MiSTEM is involved in a variety of ways on campus, all in an effort to positively impact students’ experiences and knowledge. As well as hosting the Overcoming Failure Dinner, MiSTEM also hosts movie nights, workshops and biweekly general meetings. Follow their instagram @cow_mistem to stay updated on their upcoming events!