STEM STAR OF THE MONTH

The  STEM STAR of the Month Award recognize Middle and High School Female identifying students in STEM who are changing lives through their community outreach, work, and research. We encourage you to nominate someone you feel represents the best in STEM and embodies  our vision. Nominate a STEM STAR TODAY!

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OCTOBER 2021

Taylor R.

Jacksonville,Florida 

Taylor R. also known as “Astronaut Starbright” is an advocate, activist, philanthropist and speaker. She wants to be a physician, scientist and an astronaut.

 

Taylor’s service and advocacy work continues to have an incredible trajectory that began when she was nine and attended Space Camp in Alabama.  Her first fundraiser lead to her own book drive Taylor’s Take Flight with a Book that has collected and donated over 15,000 books within and outside of the US. Since then Taylor has sponsored several full scholarships to send girls to STEM and empowerment camps across the US. 

 

She is an internationally known advocate for girls in STEM. She is the youngest recipient for the Florida Times-Union Eve Award’s first-time “Aspiring EVE” winner in June 2019. She is a 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 mentee with the nationally recognized Black Girls Rock, Black Girls LEAD conference. In July 2019 she helped fund fees for other Black girls to attend this conference as well. She is two year delegate for Eighteenx18 delegate along with 39 other youth leaders across the US in their bid to register young people to vote. In the summer of 2019 Taylor registered over 150 youth to vote in Jacksonville, Florida. She has co-sponsored in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 with Alpha STARZ a Back-to-School Jamborees where she helped raise funds in the amount of $15,000 for 3,000 local children to receive backpacks and school supplies in Northwest Jacksonville. 

 

Taylor has been a pacesetter for youth philanthropy and STEM advocacy for the past seven years. With the help of big-time names like mogul Oprah Winfrey, film/tv producer JJ Abrams and actor Chis Pine, and Venture Capitalists Arlan Hamilton and Monique Mosley. Taylor has raised over $250,000 to help girls interested in STEM including sponsoring movie screenings across the US for movies Hidden Figures, A Wrinkle in Time and Captain Marvel. 

 

In May 2020, she raised via GoFundMe over $4000 to aid in childcare for frontline workers for COVID relief. In June 2020, she crowdfunded again via GoFundMe for her Freedom Fund that raised over $17,000 to aid in Black Lives Matter movements across the nation. Also in Fall of 2020 partnered with Bonfire to create tees for ADHD and Black While ___________! to aid in advocacy work against racism and oppression and learning disabilities raising over $2500 and continues to sell. 

 

Between January and March of 2021 she has raised over $29,000 to help get the book The Black Friend to aid in anti racism and build dialogue in middle and high school libraries across the US. Since raising the funds she has donated 2500 books locally, nationally and internationally reaching 40 states and 40 US embassies and reaching as far as Ghana, Australia and Ireland. She has also donated to her local Jacksonville Public library and donated the book to all 21 of its libraries. 

 

Taylor also continues to use her platform with corporations and has spoken at many STEM and women empowerment conferences around the world to push #RepresentationMatters in places like Washington, DC, for March for Science 2016, Ohio for Congresswoman Marcia Fudge’s NEOSTREAM Conference 2018, Ireland’s InspirefestHQ 2018, IBM Think in San Francisco 2019, Ellevate Network in New York 2019, 2021 My Brothers Keeper-Spartanburg, Born This Way Foundation and Girlscouts USA. She has graced covers of several magazines: in 2017 and 2018, 2017 Girl of the Year for Women in Aviation and New Moon Girls magazine as it’s 2019 Girl of the Year. 

In 2018 Taylor is featured in the documentary about her advocacy work titled, “ASTRONAUTSTARBRIGHT: Story of a STEM Advocate,” where it has earned numerous awards.  In 2019 she was featured in another documentary “Fly Like A Girl,” about girls and women in aviation and STEM fields which is streaming on Hulu. And in 2021 she is featured the YouTube Original Series The Outsiders?

 

Taylor has also written op-ed’s for Teen Vogue, New Moon Girls and local Jacksonville paper Florida Times Union. She is also featured in 7 books that promote STEM, representation and girls empowerment. She is currently writing the foreword to NYT Best Seller author of The Black Friend Fred T Joseph book Better Than We Found It. She has also co wrote a picture book with Girls Have Rights Founder Havana Chapman Edwards about girls being the change they want to see in the world. (Currently looking for publisher.) 

 

When she is not advocating for representation, equality and equity, she is usually self teaching herself the electric guitar, watching YouTube videos, playing soccer or spending time with family and friends. 

 

You can find Taylor on all social media outlets under @astrostarbright for Twitter/Facebook and @astronautstarbright for Instagram.

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SEPTEMBER 2021

Ella H.

Scottsdale, Arizona 

Ella H. is a senior attending BASIS Scottsdale High School. In her freshman year, she wrote over thirty original chemistry and physics lessons, creating two new courses, for a local youth STEM program called Waybright Academy.
Throughout high school, Ella has volunteered as a math tutor from PreCalculus to Calculus BC. She is also part of the team behind Foster Futures Together, an organization which connects K-8th grade students in foster care with high school tutors, providing them with free academic support and positive role models.

As a local camp counselor, Ella has taught science and robotics lessons to over a hundred girls. She also leads robotics badge workshops for Girl Scouts in her neighborhood and teaches science lessons through Sisters in STEM. Ella loves sharing her interests with others and hopes to establish a math and robotics team for her Girl Scout service unit before she graduates high school.

As one of 25 Girl Scouts chosen to be interns on Girl Scouts of the USA’s G-TEAM, Ella helped create and host G-TEAM TV, Girl Scouts first girl-led show, which included interviews with amazing STEM leaders. Ella also partnered with GSUSA in 2021 to moderate the Instagram and Facebook booth during their virtual STEM Festival. She co-hosted the Becoming Me international virtual event featuring an interview with former First Lady Michelle Obama. Most recently, Ella hosted an international live Digital Leadership badge for K-5th grade Girl Scouts, and served as a panelist for the 6th grade and up launch.

Hamer is dedicated to improving literacy in her state and testified on behalf of two related bills. The first established finance as a mandatory unit in the Economics half credit graduation requirement in Arizona. The second appointed the State Treasurer the responsibility and resources to educate Arizonans about finance.

Recently, Ella was honored with Junior Achievement of Arizona’s 18 Under 18 Award and the Pima Neighborhood Senior Service Grant, celebrating her community involvement.

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AUGUST 2021

Mera S.

Fairfax, Virginia 

Mera Seifu is a 10th grade student currently attending WT Woodson High School and has been a member of the STEM Impressionists Program (SIP) for 3 years. Through this non-profit organization, Ms. Seifu has had the opportunity to participate in seminars, meet professionals in STEM, and partake in competitions. In 2018, she competed in the Robert H. Herndon Memorial Science Competition where she won first place for her essay "Why We Shouldn’t Ignore Pollution." Later that year she helped organize an Hour of Code event for one-hundred-fifty 5th graders at her local elementary school where she introduced students to computer science through robotics. In 2019, Mera participated in the first-ever Sphero Robotics competition where she worked with her teammates to complete different coding challenges while learning about the Apollo 11 Moon landing. That year, she taught students about the different types of engineering and how to make a paper robotic hand at STEM into Spring, a day-long event created by the STEM Impressionists to introduce elementary school students to STEM with student-created hands-on activities. 

 

Over the course of the pandemic, Mera has continued to explore her interests by taking different online courses such as Website Development, Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, Cybersecurity, and more. In 2021 she co-hosted a 10-week coding program called Starting from Scratch for students in India. Mera has also been working with other members of SIP to co-host HackSIP, an on-going beginner hackathon for females that is currently being funded by a $3000 grant they won from NCWIT (Nation Center for Women in Information Technology). While in SIP, Ms. Seifu’s interest in Computer Science and passion for STEM has continued to grow.

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JULY 2021

Neha S.

Greater Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Neha saw millions of people becoming ill in her community and around the world. It didn’t seem right to her that a misunderstanding of social distance could cost someone their life. In March 2020, she created SixFeetApart – a wearable social-distancing device and app that uses the latest developments in ultrasonic technology and AI to alert users when approaching people cross CDC's guidelines of a 6-foot distance. Neha’s efforts in innovation were featured in the New York Times, ABC, the Nasdaq screen in Times Square, and more. Her work was recognized by the late Princess Diana and the Royal Family through the Diana Award as well as by President Biden through the National Gold Presidential Volunteer Service Award. She was also named a 2021 Global Teen Leader, representing the United States for her innovations and outreach. 

 

As Neha continued tackling other real-world problems through her innovations, she realized the gap of young people in innovation. Our world is facing so many global challenges, like COVID-19, climate change, threats to cybersecurity - and we need a collaborative approach to solving these problems, with young people as a part of the dialogue. Neha has been running global Innovation & STEM workshops with students across the world to inspire the next generation of young problem-solvers and innovators creating solutions to the world’s biggest problems! Neha shares her 3-step innovation framework of “Identify, Innovate, Impact”, teaches students how to channel their passions into solutions for real-world problems through interactive innovation activities, and introduces them to emerging technologies. She has impacted over 38,000 students to-date and hopes to reach over 100,000 students by the end of the year.

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JUNE 2021

Lauryn T.

Cary, North Carolina

Hi, I am Lauryn T, and I am honored to be Young Women in STEM Conference's STEM STAR of the Month. As I enter my senior year of high school, I am focusing on medicine and education.  I hope to be on the pre-med track and explore neuroscience, psychology, and writing in college. Starting in August, I will be completing an internship at a local Assisted Living Home and Memory Care Facility. I am excited to gain patient-care experience. In addition, I will be launching a youtube channel with my younger sister that will feature many STEM demonstrations for kids to access and complete at home. I believe representation is crucial to every kid's success, and every child of every sexuality, race, religion, and ethnicity should see themselves. As I continue to advance my education, I want to continue to serve as a mentor for other black girls pursuing STEM and medicine. This summer, I will continue to explore STEM in the Woodson Summer Scholars Program at the University of Chicago. I will be taking the Science, Technology, and the Body course and can not wait to share my new knowledge with others!

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Naomi H.

Baltimore, Maryland

 Naomi is a 17 year old coder. She started coding at the age of 12 when she found out how much she loved it. From then on she had participated in many coding camps, as well as hosted a few workshops. She has worked with organizations like Black Girls CODE, Superposition, Elevate the Future Maryland, and Kindling Curiosity. She hopes to major in Computer Science when she gets to college. After college, she wants to work for a company that deals with cyber security.

MAY 2021

Zahra-Marie Ronizi

Miami, Florida

 Since the age of 5, she dreamed of becoming one of the firsts to walk on Mars.

Since then, she's been chasing her dreams in space medicine, working her way towards the red planet.
    She's a licensed International PADI scuba diver, a 2-time graduate of the United States Space Academy, and a Young Eagle with the EAA training for her Private Pilot’s License. Last month, she was awarded a full scholarship to attend the Advanced Space Academy in Huntsville, Alabama for her leadership and research in STEM. This year, Zahra has been conducting research on space surgeries and was nominated for the Congress of Future Medical Leaders Award of Excellence by Nobel Prize recipient Mario Capecchi. Zahra was selected to be on the Research Committee for Girls in White Coats, an organization striving for female empowerment in medicine. She is also one of the crew members on an Astronaut Training Expedition taking place in Iceland this year where she will be studying geology and astrobiology. She is also set to attend an analog mission in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia with the Mars V company. Since the pandemic hit, Zahra has taken on a new initiative, partnering with schools and universities across the world to host virtual talks on STEM and the importance of space exploration. So far, she has spoken with over 1,000 students from 10+  countries, striving to motivate her generation to pursue their big dreams. Her mission in life is to inspire others to reach their goals and to show them that with passion, courage, and dedication, no time, age, or fallback can stop someone from achieving their dreams!”

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APRIL 2021