Hey there! I’m Catherine, a member of the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) class of 2019/2023. I’ll be posting updates about the Program, the grueling application process, and my life as a Brown student in PLME. Hopefully, I can give some insight into the Brown experience, and see some prospective students on campus in the coming years!
Remember the time when I said I was going to talk about topics besides PLME? Well here we go.
Before I came to Brown many of the black doctors scientists in my life warned me about science culture in college. They said science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) classes were egregiously homogenous in terms of gender and particularly race.
I took their advice with a grain of salt because during my first semester I meet many people of color and women of color in STEM. If I was meet so many people of color, maybe the warnings were exaggerated. But, in class I would catch myself thinking of how I don’t fit the stereotype of a scientist. My logic: I am black and a woman, therefore not a scientist. I realized that I needed support if I was going to do well in class and be in the right mental state. So, I signed up for the New Scientist Program (NSP) in hopes of gaining guidance from people like me: people of color in STEM.
The aim of NSP is to mentor underclassmen in science courses since the first two years that consist of a lot of large introductory courses that can be intimidating. I’ve found that it is comforting to sit down and have coffee with someone who has been through it all before. I can ask my mentor the questions I could ask anyone, like how to study or how to do well on exams. But, the real value of NSP is that I can ask the mentors questions that are unique to my identities, like how do you deal with being one of the few people of your demographic in class, how do you deal with that nagging voice in your head telling you that someone of your race does not belong in Organic Chemistry or Engineering, how do you deal with the internalized effects of structural racism?
Though my mentor does not intend to have all the answers- no one does- I am grateful to have the opportunity to ponder the question on a regular basis. Mostly, I would encourage someone to enroll in NSP so they know that they are not alone, the mentors who are mostly students of color have done well in racially homogenous STEM classes, so you can too.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Funny Gifs? Rugby Jokes? Cool New Music? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below! I’ll try to respond as soon as I can!