Alexandria Brown ’14 and Anais Marston ’14 shared more than friendship when they were students at Harlem Academy – they also shared a love of science. As they prepare to begin their freshman year in college this fall – Alexandria at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and Anais at Northeastern – the two continue to follow a similar path. Both plan to become engineers.
Alexandria and Anais credit Harlem Academy with spurring their interest in the field.
“I love doing challenging science experiments and hands-on projects, and that was a big focus of our work in science at Harlem Academy,” says Anais. One of her standout experiences was a building project she worked on in her eighth-grade applied science class. “The project had aspects of physics, architecture, and design – a combination I’m drawn to,” Anais recalls. “Working on it helped to solidify my interest in engineering.”
For Alexandria, it was exposure to professionals that helped to fuel her scientific passion. Each year our middle-schoolers visit RPI to delve into applied science projects and work closely with professors. “I added RPI to my list of colleges specifically because of those trips,” says Alexandria. “That’s when I first learned what a good STEM school it is.”
Plus, it gave her the chance to meet RPI President Shirley Ann Jackson. “Her journey showed me that with hard work and dedication, I can be successful in this field regardless of the odds stacked against me.”
Now, as soon-to-be college freshmen, these two friends are fulfilling their dreams and breaking down barriers in the STEM field. They both hope more girls follow in their footsteps.
“It’s critical for women of color to enter STEM because we bring unique skills and perspectives to the field,” says Anais.
Alexandria agrees, adding, “As young girls grow up, it’s important that they don’t think their options are limited just because they don’t see many women – especially women of color – in STEM fields. They need to know that their futures are limitless.”