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A World Class Scientist and Role Model

Monday, April 7, 2014
Harlem Academy fourth graders perform an experiment about surface tension on a penny for Dr. Jackson.
Harlem Academy fourth graders perform an experiment about surface tension on a penny for Dr. Jackson.

Time magazine dubbed Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson as, “perhaps the ultimate role model for women in science.” She is the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate from MIT.

For Harlem Academy, Dr. Jackson has been a long-time supporter and a partner in the growth of our science program.

“Harlem Academy does a phenomenal job of helping these young people to grow, to realize their potential, and put them on a pathway that can lead to success,” she says.

Each spring, Dr. Jackson hosts our middle school students for three days on the Rensselaer campus. Students work with professors, perform experiments, present findings, and stay in dorms. The experience complements the Harlem Academy science curriculum, while providing students with a window into life at a top research university.

This past November, Dr. Jackson visited Harlem Academy, leading science experiments with our fourth graders and holding an intimate question and answer session with our eighth graders. Dr. Jackson explored a variety of topics with our older students, including her own role models, time management strategies, proudest accomplishments, and regrets.

“I really enjoyed having Dr. Jackson speak with our class,” said eighth grader Anais. “What she said motivated me to try my best at everything I do, because I could do something really meaningful if I keep trying.”

Eighth grader Zahir added, “The thing that pops into my head every time I think about Dr. Jackson is that she stayed at MIT to open the doors up for others. Dr. Jackson taught me to make opportunities for others and show compassion by helping.”

Special thanks to the Harry Winston Hope Foundation, lead sponsor of Harlem Academy’s middle school science program.

Thank you also to Con Edison and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for their ongoing support of our student's science and technology education.