March really is one of the best months in our beautiful State of Colorado. The days get longer and give us more sunshine. It starts to get just a little bit warmer, enough that you start to get excited for the opening of pool season. It’s a time of planting, with the exciting anticipation of all that will bloom in just a few short weeks.
March is also special as we take these thirty-one days to celebrate the brave, the powerful, the many, women in our lives in observance of Women’s History Month. In honor of that sentiment, we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to highlight BIPOC women in STEM, of which without, we would be lacking numerous advancements in the areas of science.
Evelyn Carmon Nicol
Evelyn Carmon Nicol had a passion for medicine and a commitment to the health of others. She was the first person to isolate the virus responsible for shingles, she patented a new way to produce the enzyme utilized to reduce and prevent blood clots, and she also led the team responsible for developing diagnostic tests, most notably, for HIV.
María Alexandra Tamayo
I think that we can all agree that water is pretty important. María Alexandra Tamayo certainly does. So much so, that at just twenty-four years old, she created NanoPro, a device “capable of eliminating fungi, viruses and bacteria from the water without affecting its taste, smell and color.” For countries with little access to drinking water, this is an absolute game changer.
Mary Golda Ross
Mary Golda Ross is considered the first Native American aerospace engineer. She is largely considered a “hidden figure” of America’s space age, alongside other women such as Katherine Johnson, who also had their contributions buried for decades. She was the first female engineer on the Lockheed Skunks Works program and her work was highly impactful to the Apollo program.
As India Johnson, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Butler University has said, “If you want more Black (BIPOC) women in STEM, we need more Black (BIPOC) women in STEM. The very problem is the solution.”
Environmental Learning for Kids is working hard to solve that problem. Over 50% of ELK’s staff identify as female and of those, 86% identify as BIPOC. 51% of the students we serve identify as female and 95% of our students identify as BIPOC. We meet our students where they are, providing hands-on, experiential learning, in a real-world context. Our students go on to become Park Rangers, professionals in medicine, engineers, and more. 65% of the high school graduates we have tracked are in a STEM career or field of study. And that feels even better than this beautiful spring weather.
About Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK): Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK) is a Denver-based, nonprofit organization established in 1996 to address the growing need to introduce and educate Colorado’s racially diverse youth about science, leadership, and careers. Twenty-seven years later, ELK continues to provide strong educational support, good role models, and opportunities for positive community action for youth, helping them to become engaged, productive, and successful members of society. Learn more at elkkkids.org.
About the Author: Kristina Gray received her Bachelor of Art degree in Political Science from MSU Denver in 2011. She has been a part of the nonprofit sector for over 10 years. She is an alumnus of the Corporation for National and Community Service’s AmeriCorps VISTA program and the Hispanic Chamber Foundation’s Aspiring Leaders Program, Class of 2017. Kristina spends her free time advocating for justice and equity for all of Colorado’s youth & families and going on adventures with her husband and young daughter. Contact Kristina at firstname.lastname@example.org.