Becoming A “Science Person” – by Shirley Liu

My name is Shirley, and I have been interning at the Carnegie Academy for Science Education (CASE) since February of this year (2019). When I tell people that I intern at CASE, I tend to receive one of two responses: 1) “What’s that?” and 2) “So you want to study science in college?” With the first question, I am always eager to answer that CASE’s primary goal is to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education opportunities for teachers and students in the DC-area. My primary intern responsibilities include helping with the Amgen Biotech Experience (ABE) kits, which allow DC students to explore biotech labs using research-grade equipment.

The second question is a little more complicated. Although I don’t want to focus my studies on biotechnology, that doesn’t mean I’m done with STEM forever. Interning at CASE has shown me the value of the critical thinking skills, leadership qualities, and enhanced career opportunities that come with a STEM education. For this reason, I plan to continue studying science at Lafayette College, where I will enter as a freshman this fall. Although I initially planned to major in philosophy, I now want to double major in computer science as well. I’ve always had an interest in computer science, but never fully pursued it because I didn’t consider myself a “science person”; interning at CASE has taught me that anyone with curiosity and an open mind has the potential to be a science person.

My internship experience has also inspired me to look into science outreach as a potential career path. DCPS is not the only school district with a highly impoverished minority student population, and I’d like to help make quality STEM education more accessible and appealing to high-risk students through programs like CASE’s First Light and Amgen Biotech Experience. I would also like to work towards making STEM fields more welcoming for underrepresented demographics in the scientific community. I really appreciate how supportive my supervisors have been of me throughout my internship experience; I want to return the favor by working to expand STEM education to everyone, regardless of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other historically limiting factors.

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