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  • Writer's pictureKimberly Belfer

FEMME IN STEM


What does it mean to be a woman in any science industry? It's empowering. It's exciting. It's hard work. For a long time in history, science was not a career option for many women, especially since their role was not outside the home. Times have changed, society has blended the lines of job roles, and women are seen (and heard) in almost every industry.


Our Director of Education has her own story of getting into STEM and how that journey shaped how she continues to encourage young girls to get excited about science. She was first guided by her father's love of science, where he encouraged her to explore the skies with a telescope, use a pair of binoculars to check out the birds in their neighborhood, and mix a concoction of substances with a chemistry set. Their favorite times together were building sand and snow sculptures with real sculpting tools and watching documentaries on the history and discovery channels. He encouraged her to study hard and find something she was interested in enough to pursue as a career.

Enter Mrs. Patricia Kingman. During high school, she had the honor of being in not one, but three, of Mrs. Kingman's elective courses (all science). From Astronomy to Oceanography to Man and His Environment (Environmental Sci 101), she was inspirational in guiding her to her love of the environment, natural world, and marine life. Which led her to apply for a specialty STEM program in her senior year called MATES (Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science).


MATES provided her with the structure of college, the advanced courses in math, science, and English required for a degree, and the close bond with 14 other students. It was the first of many experiences that further led to a bachelor's degree in marine biology and eventually a master's degree in conservation biology from a school in Australia. Yes, she got to dive the Great Barrier Reef, study at a field station on a remote island, and take a five hour cruise around a world heritage protected site. Yet, all of that didn't come close to the experiences in STEM she got to do after all her schooling was done.

Her very first job out of college was a summer gig for the NJ Sea Grant Consortium (then Marine Science Consortium). For two summers she was outside teaching school groups and campers about the coastal ecosystems of NJ at Sandy Hook. And the Hook definitely hooked her! From that moment on, she put on her resume that she was a Marine Education Specialist. She embodied that title in everything she did and would not take a job unless it helped her build that resume.


Always the educator, she had many jobs and many different hats, but in each one she encouraged others (especially girls) to study and learn science. Her love of science brought her to the place she's at now, five years strong owning a business which sparks the same love in young students. And tomorrow, September 16th, from 10am-4pm, she gets to continue to inspire at the FEMME in STEM event at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. It will be year two of being part of such an amazing event and we hope to see you all there!

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