It is no secret that a mentor can have a big impact on our lives. Think back to your high school years was there one or two adults who stood out and believed in above all else. How did that make you feel? Pretty invincible right? Now imagine dreaming of a career in a male-dominant STEM field. Girls in STEM need their mentors to encourage and believe in them.
Recently my daughter needed to see an Orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Anubhav P. Jagadish, M.D. for her back. When we met him for the first time, we knew Dr. Jagadish wasn’t like most doctors. Not only did he listen, but he really listened to what my daughter had to say. They immediately had a connection and talked about where he went to Medical School and it turned out that his school is her number one choice for college.
Most doctor visits would end with a “wow what a small world”. Not in this case…during their discussion it was uncovered that she really is interested in medicine. The doctor offered to look into seeing if she might be able to observe a surgery. Instead of viewing this young 8th grade girl as too young to think about being a doctor, this surgeon explored every possible avenue for her to observe a surgery.
Teen girls self esteem is fragile and to have a medical professional take an interest can have a huge impact on choices for high school and college. After making this connection with the doctor, pursuing a medical career became in greater focus for my daughter’s class selection in the coming year. Instead of taking the summer off, she is considering taking Biology at a University.
At a recent visit the two conversed about different topics and then he did an amazing act of generosity. Knowing her interest in medicine, this doctor brought his personal college anatomy textbook to the appointment and gave it to my daughter. They talked about all the things she could learn from reading the book and she was truly really excited.
The question is…what would happen if she hadn’t found this mentor. For most girls if they don’t have encouragement in math and science, they stick with what they perceive they are “good at”. It is critical for educators and professionals to offer opportunities to girls so that they see their possibilities are endless.
Our family will forever be grateful to her mentor for encouragement and believing without hesitation she could reach for the stars.