1. TELL ME WHEN YOU FIRST FELL IN LOVE WITH SCIENCE.
"I was always interested in science at an early age and wanted to know how things work. I did not know that science is what I was looking for. If I saw a butterfly or a dog, I would wonder how that was put together and what made it work the way it did. This curiosity did not transfer to humans for a long time. The satisfaction came when I got to high school biology and chemistry. It helped me see that there was detailed information on the types of questions that I had."
2. WHO IS YOUR SCIENTIFIC SHE-ROE?
"When I was taking tenth grade biology my teacher had missed a few days and we had a substitute. It would be the same lady every time. I actually think she may have had a degree in biology. She actually taught, she explained things, and she brought to light some of things I had been thinking. Approximately 10 years ago, I ran into her and was able to make that expression and let her know she opened something for me.
3. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS PARTICULAR FIELD OF STEM THAT YOU ARE IN?
"From that 10th grade class I learned that what I was looking for was in biology. In my early years, I was saying how I wanted to be a physician but that changed so completely. Although, I had been told that if you wanted to be a physician Biology was your best track. While it is not the only route it is the most traditional, because you do have people with music degrees or English degrees applying for medical school. I became the Anatomy and Physiology teacher here through faculty assignment. Years ago we were a smaller department and if there was a class to be taught you picked somebody to do it.
4. TELL ME ABOUT YOUR GREATEST PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT.
"In the Summer of 2002, I worked at the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, New Jersey and it was a huge eye-opener. I got the chance to go around to a lot of the examinations including TOEFL and SAT but zeroed in on the GRE for Biology. This is where I spent the last half of the Summer. I learned about running a company. While I've been in Biology all my life I know nothing about Corporate America. I learned the importance of productivity because everyone is looking at you. I also got hints in test making...when you formulate a test question there is ONE answer and I was taught to make that test so that out of the choices there is only one single answer.
5. WHAT IS ONE OF THE HARDEST CHALLENGES YOU HAVE FACED THUS FAR?
"Developing truly effective methodology and techniques for students who say, 'This content is a struggle for me.' I am always coming up with something and trying something but there is no one technique that reaches everybody. I publish a recommended technique for passing my courses and some people say that it doesn't work for them although I have no evidence that they've actually utilized it. But if they say it doesn't work I try do a one-on-one and I throw out questions that will prompt discussion. I'm more in need of those techniques now more than ever. My students are now more challenging in that regard. My past students at Claflin University, by large, were more highly motivated, highly interactive, highly analytical. I don't get much of that anymore. I need the interaction, civilly, I need them to say to that, 'if you do that again I will walk out of this classroom because what you're doing is not helping me, its not effective'. Respectively if something does work say that too!"
6. WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACING BLACK WOMEN TODAY?
"Shedding the stereotype of being angry, bossy, incapable, less than. We have to get over that. And when I see people who support the stereotype, well, we just have to get away from it. I'm not sure where it came from. Majority of individuals are afraid of Black women, they're afraid of Black men for a different reason, but they think if you tick her off she will read you the riot act and we just have to get beyond that."
7. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG BLACK STEMINISTA TODAY?
"Don't cry in public. You'll be reduced to a water bag and I don't want that to be my image. You can ball your eyes out when you get behind closed doors but show some strength. And it doesn't always have to be false strength. Know yourself and capabilities! Push past limitations and give every effort your fullest. Never lose sight of the goal and always start with a plan A and B in case you are forced into another goal. But as long as you can keep Plan A, work toward it.
8. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH PRESSURE?
"I don't allow pressure or stress. I took solace in my savior. There is a scripture that says, 'Don't worry about anything, offer up your prayers to God and leave them to him.' And I am so far down the line, I chastise myself if I catch myself worrying. So if a situation comes I do whatever I can to resolve that situation and I leave the rest of the Lord.
One of the major effects of pressure is health. The immune system goes first, you keep a cold, the flu, sniffles and then other chemicals and organ systems become effected and you are now in a heightened stage of fight or flight, which is meant to be temporary. You resolve whatever the risk, the threat, the danger is and you go back to your normal state of chemistry and biology. So I have to practice what I preach, I do not do full-time worrying."
9. HAVE YOUR EVER EXPERIENCED IMPOSTER SYNDROME. EXPLAIN.
"NEVER! When people say I intimidate them, well that's your problem! You have to remember I'm a minority growing up in the 50's, full open Jim Crow, segregation and discrimination, you name it. But my family and my teachers taught me no one defines who you are. So if you look at my nappy hair, my big lips, and my broad nose and decide I can't do anything that's your problem. I have never and I won't allow it. Now this is something you learn and I empathize with people who don't.
10. In 1903, W.E.B DU BOIS COINED THE TERM "DOUBLE CONSCIOUSNESS" IN HIS BOOK THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK. HE STATES, "IT IS A PECULIAR SENSATION, THIS DOUBLE-CONSCIOUSNESS, THIS SENSE OF ALWAYS LOOKING AT ONE'S SELF THROUGH THE EYES OF OTHERS, OF MEASURING'S ONE'S SOUL BY THE TAPE OF A WORLD THAT LOOKS ON IN AMUSED CONTEMPT AND PITY. ONE EVER FEELS HIS OWN TWO-NESS, AN AMERICAN, A NEGRO; TWO SOULS, TWO THOUGHTS,TWO UNRECONCILED STRIVINGS, TWO WARRING IDEAS IM ONE DARK BODY, WHOSE DOGGED STRENGTH ALONE KEEPS IT FROM BEING TORN ASUNDER." HAVE YOU EVER FELT THE SENSATION OF "TRIPLE CONSCIOUSNESS", YOUR OWN THREE-NESS; AN AMERICAN, A NEGRO, A WOMAN?
"First off, I could never be unaware of being a black person. More than color, it is the cultural experience. I could never step aside from that and I wouldn't want to.
I went to my son's ceremony of becoming an American citizen and it was such a highlight for him and it made me think I had that all the time. I don't think I valued it but I didn't devalue it. I've talked to people from other countries and they'll tell you this is the place to be. There are positives, AND negatives but from my childhood experience this was the place.
I am so glad to be a woman. I enjoy saying I can do this. I'm not a damsel in distress and if that's a mans thinking please stay far away from me. I'm woman hear me roar. Don't take anything from me because I'm a woman, don't think anything less of me because I'm a woman.
Thinking of my American status is new, but I'm always black and a woman. I can't get away from it."
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