A SEAT AT THE TABLE
Who’s got next? The winners of our OLAY x HBCU STEM Queens contest, of course! These 10 dynamic and beautiful minds are confirmation that the future is indeed young, Black, and female!
Story by S. Tia Brown
Photography by Keith Major
Look for the EBONY x OLAY commemorative print issue at all Barnes & Noble, select Target and HBCU stores, and retail chains nationwide on now.
ALENA "ANALEIGH" WICKER
AGE: 13 | HOMETOWN: DALLAS
SCHOOL: OAKWOOD UNIVERSITY | MAJOR: BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
YEAR: SOPHOMORE | STEM GOAL: CARDIOTHORACIC SURGEON
Why I STEM: “I’ve always thought, Why can’t girls of
color do STEM and pursue jobs in STEM like others? I’ve always believed that girls of color can do anything in STEM that they put their minds to, so I created the Brown STEM Girl to give STEM opportunities to girls of color.”
Wow Achievement: Getting into college at age 12
Bookmark: Author of Brainiac World: 21 Days of Affirmations for Smart Girls
STEM Flex: Being the youngest person to intern at NASA
Favorite Hobby: Singing
Best Advice Ever Received: “Never give up. The sky isn’t the limit.”
Skin Hack: A clean face
Why She Admires Mathematician Katherine Johnson: “I love how she put her mind to something, and even though [she was told] she couldn’t do things that she knew she could, she kept going.”
I’ve always believed that girls of color can do anything in STEM that they put their minds to, so I created the Brown STEM Girl to give STEM opportunities to girls of color.
Why I STEM: “Growing up, I always knew that I would be a doctor. I vividly remember walking around with a stetho-scope in my hand, saying, ‘I want to be a pedestrian (pediatrician).’ ”
HBCU Advantage: “At Xavier, we are not just numbers. We are stakeholders investing thousands of dollars into our education. Therefore, our university is dedicated to pouring just as much into us.”
STEM Flex: “While interning at the University of Missouri-Columbia a few years ago, I contributed to the ﬂuorescent staining protocol for muscle cells in mice models. I worked relentlessly to ﬁnd antibodies and staining materials to perfectly stain each muscle. The postdoctoral student I worked under and I were able to ﬁnalize a protocol that the lab would use moving forward.”
Beauty Code: “Whipped shea butter has saved my life. I’ve used it since I was about 13 years old.”
Growing up, I always knew that I would be a doctor. I vividly remember walking around with a stethoscope in my hand, saying, ‘I want to be a pedestrian (pediatrician).
AGE: 22 | HOMETOWN: PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, MD | SCHOOL: SPELMAN COLLEGE | MAJOR: HEALTH SCIENCE | YEAR: SENIOR | STEM GOAL: PHYSICIAN-SCIENTIST
Why I STEM: “I STEM because women’s health is extremely important to me and I want to be a change agent in the health field. Growing up, I witnessed both of my grandmothers battle breast cancer and it really affected our whole family. I believe we need to increase the representation of Black women in STEM, especially in the medical field, so that we can achieve health equity.”
Notable Accomplishment: “I’m the ﬁrst woman in my family to go away to college and [pursue] STEM.”
Favorite Black Female STEM Character: “This may sound a little corny, but Doc McStufﬁns. I think having that representation at a young age was really important. Growing up, I never saw a Black doctor on TV.”
Black Woman STEM Role Model: “Dr. Dorothy Brown [the South’s ﬁrst Black woman surgeon, who served as chief of surgery at Nashville’s Riverside Hospital].”
Words of Inspiration: “To all the Black girls who want to go into STEM: You can do it and you belong here, and you’re made for this.”
I witnessed both of my grandmothers battle breast cancer and it really affected our whole family. We need to increase the representation of Black women in STEM, especially in the medical field, so that we can achieve health equity."
AGE: 20 | HOMETOWN: ATLANTA | SCHOOL: GRAMBLING STATE UNIVERSITY
MAJOR: COMPUTER INFORMATION SYSTEMS | YEAR: JUNIOR
STEM GOAL: COMPUTER ENGINEER
Favorite Software Program: EarSketch. “This is really cool because it lets you make music while coding.”
Stimulating Hobby: Doing STEM puzzles Black Woman STEM Role Model: Katherine Johnson. “She was really, really impactful for the Black community, especially in STEM.”
Biggest STEM Assist: “Being a part of my school’s tech tour program. This is a new program that just came about in 2019. And this program is for people who are interested in majoring in STEM. We just added cybersecurity and cloud computing to our school, which is really import-ant because of the different cyber hacks.”
Best Advice Ever Received: “It’s OK to fail, but it’s never OK to quit.”
Hair Hack: “Aloe vera has magnesium and [nutrients] that are good for your hair. So if you want shiny and bouncy hair, it’s really good.”
The best advice I ever received: ‘It’s OK to fail, but it’s never OK to quit.’
Why I STEM: “My ultimate career goal is to become a physician…. I think it’s important for people to see that there are Black physicians who are advocating for them. I want to open my own practice serving people who are underserved and underrepresented in
Parental Guidance: “My dad is a physician, and my mom [a mother of eight] is a nurse practitioner [with] a home health company. Ever since I was young, I just started getting involved in her company servicing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
Black Women in STEM Matter: “Black women in history are always change agents, changemakers. We’re the people who advocate; we’re the people who also nurture. We have just so much ability and so much talent that we can utilize to really make an impact.”
How Howard Supports My STEM Dreams: “By giving me community.”
Skin Hack: Moisturizing
Black women in history are always change agents, changemakers. We’re the people who advocate; we’re the people who also nurture.
ALEXIS VAN ZANDT
Why I STEM: “Originally, I wanted to be a lawyer because I just don’t like inequality, but I had a grandmother, my mom’s mom, and she passed away…. I feel her [poor] treatment played a role in her untimely death, and that pushed me to enter into the medical or STEM field.”
Why We Must Close the STEM Gap: “It’s critical that we put ourselves in positions to increase our numbers in these ﬁelds so that girls younger than us can look up to someone who looks like them.”
And Still I Rise: “Many times, we didn’t have a house. Even in college, when I would go home on breaks, we’d sleep in the car. And I still did what I had to do. I still maintained my GPA.”
Favorite Hobbies: Playing video games, reading manga, and watching Korean dramas and anime
Many times, we didn’t have a house. Even in college, when I would go home on breaks, we’d sleep in the car. And I still did what I had to do. I still maintained my GPA.
AGE: 19 | HOMETOWN: SMYRNA, GA | SCHOOL: FORT VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY | MAJOR: MATH AND ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING | YEAR: JUNIOR | STEM GOAL: ROBOTICS ENGINEER
Why I STEM: “I was part of a precollegiate program [at my college], where I was introduced to STEM.”
STEM Is for the Kids: “This past summer, I did a math internship with the Clayton County school board [in the Atlanta metro area] and worked with middle schoolers and helped them get introduced to STEM ﬁelds.”
Why We Must STEM: “There are not many Black people in STEM, especially Black women. So it’s deﬁnitely important for us to be part of the ﬁeld so that we can have more diversity and input.”
Treasured Advice From Mom: “You aren’t in control. The only person in control is God. So what happens, happens.”
Favorite Hobbies: Listening to music, traveling, and roller skating
Hair Hack: Oiling the scalp to maintain growth and strength
There are not many Black people in STEM, especially Black women. So it’s deﬁnitely important for us to be part of the ﬁeld so that we can have more diversity and input.
AGE: 19 | HOMETOWN: HOUSTON SCHOOL: HOWARD UNIVERSITY | MAJOR: BIOLOGY | YEAR: FRESHMAN STEM GOAL: ANESTHESIOLOGIST
Black Woman STEM Role Model: “My mom. She is a nurse. She has worked so hard to get to where she is. She’s currently in school trying to better her career. And she still works.”
Why Black Women in STEM Matter: “It’s nice for girls out there to know that they can achieve their goals even in a ﬁeld dominated by other people.”
Surprising Talent: “People are shocked when they see that I can actually draw really well.”
Why She Likes Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross) on black-ish: “She’s an anesthe-siologist [who] seems to be really advanced in her career, and she enjoys her job too.”
Hair Hack: “For girls with 4C hair: After your conditioning, cover your hair in some sort of wrap or a bag so that it steams and the conditioner really enters the hair shaft, and then you can rinse it off after 30 minutes to an hour. [This] really moisturizes it.”
It’s nice for girls out there to know that they can achieve their goals even in a ﬁeld dominated by other people.
AGE: 22 | HOMETOWN: BATON ROUGE, LA | SCHOOL: SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY AND A&M COLLEGE
MAJOR: MECHANICAL ENGINEERING
YEAR: SENIOR | STEM GOAL: ENGINEERING PROFESSOR
Why I STEM: “I come from a family of engineers, and growing up, I worked inside my dad’s auto repair shop answering phones since like the age of 6. Creation and learning how things operate have always been in my blood.”
Black Women STEM Difference: “Studies have literally shown, when [there’s] a proportional [percentage] of Black women in the workforce, improved productivity and creativity [is the result].”
Internships Brag: Harvard, NASA (Huntsville), Bayer, and Booz Allen Hamilton
Go-To Karaoke Song: Fantasia’s “When I See U”
Surprising Feature: “I write sideways.”
Daily Affirmation: “Never let anyone tell you that the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.
Creation and learning how things operate HAVE ALWAYS BEEN IN MY BLOOD.
AGE: 18 | HOMETOWN: LITTLE ROCK, AR | SCHOOL: GRAMBLING STATE UNIVERSITY | MAJOR: NURSING YEAR: FRESHMAN | STEM GOAL: RADIOLOGIST
Why I STEM: “My aunt is an RN, and when I was younger, I volunteered at her job, and that was the moment I knew that I loved nursing.”
Treasured Advice From Mom: “Everything is not going to come to you. You have to get up and strive for it.”
The Grambling Advantage: “They are very hands-on…. There’s always tutoring or someone on campus to help you ﬁgure out what you need to do.”
Favorite Brand: Jordans
Surprising Skill: “I do hair.”
Hair Hack: “Rice water.
[Put] rice in hot water and let it sit overnight, drain,
[pour into] a spray bottle, and spray it into your
hair. It helps to grow your hair out.”
My aunt is an RN, and when I was younger, I volunteered at her job, and that was the moment I knew that I loved nursing.
CREATIVE DIRECTOR RASHIDA MORGAN-BROWN
VIDEO MEGA MEDIA
STYLIST WAYMAN + MICAH
STYLIST ASSISTANT BRYON JAVAR
STYLIST ASSISTANT KIMBERLY BATINO
HAIRSTYLISTS RICHARD NORMAN GRANT, JAMEES GILBERT/BRAND NEW JAMES, AND JO DIZON
MAKEUP ARTISTS RENEE LOIZ/TMG AND BRANDI DOUGLAS
DIGITAL TECH KIM TRAN
ON-SET PRODUCER SUZE LEE
RETOUCHER DIGITAL 805 RETOUCHING
More from the beauty x brains special issue
More from the crown coalition
A Recap of EBONY’s Crown Act Power Talk
In celebration of EBONY’s 75th anniversary, EBONY’s Power 100 List returned in all its glory at a gala event that was held at the Beverly Hills Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. on October 23rd. Ahead of gala, to delve deeper into the expertise and passions of some of the honorees, EBONY curated “Power Talks, ”a series of in-depth discussions highlighting topics such as innovation, small Black business, identity, Black women as business leaders, and more. Check out EBONY CEO Michele Ghee’s enlightening discussion the co-founders of the Crown Coalition