Like most people I’ve had my share of setbacks. But I’ve been extremely fortunate in many ways, and a recent article reminded me of one of them. A study recently came out based on a survey of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) department chairs in the top 200 research institutions in the U.S. In it, as discussed in this article, they found that 40 percent of minority and female chemists and engineers said they were discouraged from studying STEM subjects, with 44 percent of them indicating that college professors were the source of the discouragement. There are other depressing results reported in the article.
Whenever this topic comes up, I think back on my experiences. And I’m very happy to say that I didn’t face any discouragement until I reached graduate school. My elementary, junior high, high school, and even college teachers were encouraging about my math and science abilities. So by the time (some of) the graduate school faculty told me that I wasn’t particularly good, even going so far as to cut off my funding, I didn’t completely believe them. I also had a support system among the other graduate students, which helped enormously. This post is my thank you to all the teachers who helped me to form the foundation that let me endure graduate school.