Girls Inc. is a nonprofit organization that provides afterschool and summer programming for young ladies ages 6-18. Its unique programs like Economic Literacy, FriendlyPEERsuasion, and Leadership and Community Action inspire girls to be strong, smart and bold. Having lost my mother to violence at the age of 3 my father was left to raise my siblings and me. He found out about Girls Inc. programming in Dallas and quickly enrolled us.
I was active in Girls Inc. in the 9-11 and Teen programs. The activities usually lasted for about 1-2 hours depending upon how much discussion was involved or if we were working in groups with other girls or individually. When I was a student, I was always involved in lots of activities besides Girls Inc., like basketball, volleyball, and marching and concert band. I was still, however, able to fully participate in Girls Inc. programs.
The most fulfilling part of my time at Girls Inc was learning that I have the power to create any type of future I want for myself though hard work, dedication, professionalism, the right guidance and self-evaluation. I am now a great public speaker and networker, and outgoing. All of this can be attributed to how Girls Inc. has invested in my life. Originally, my biggest challenge was getting outside of my shell and showing the girls around me who Bianca was and building the self-confidence to stand and speak in front of others boldly.
For me, the most influential Girls Inc. event was the Annual Family Math and Science Night, where I was able to meet engineers and women in non-traditional fields. The female engineer soon became my mentor and encouraged me to pursue a degree in engineering. Now I am in my last year of studies at Howard University. I encourage professionals to volunteer with afterschool programs and provide their services, skill and talent to these organizations, because you never know what child you will touch and to whom you will be an example. Volunteers usually learn as well from the students they help.
My time at Girls Inc. exposed me to engineering and provided a foundation and support system for me to become interested in the subject. With the various national and local scholarships they provide, they have also removed the financial burden of attending a university.
Girls Inc. inspired me to become the president of the Howard University chapter of Engineering Without Borders, a nonprofit that aids in creating sustainable solutions for developing areas worldwide. I really enjoy traveling, meeting new people and seeing the world, and have been able to travel to Kenya twice while we’ve been working on a water filtration project, in addition to presenting on our work in Khartoum, Sudan. I also was just honored at the Champion of Change for Women and Girls in STEM event at the White House for my part in encouraging women and girls to enter the STEM workforce.
The biggest misconception about the STEM field is that it is just for men and that minorities are not successful and do not belong. I am a minority woman and can truly say that in order to advance technology and innovation, a diverse mix of minds, intellect and perspectives need to be involved so that America can continue to compete globally.
The advice I would give to young people about studying in the STEM fields is to have the “can do” mentality, do lots of practice problems to retain the subject, and make sure to have a mentor that can guide you through the difficult major. All of your hard work will be repaid in full and more in the end and even along the way.