Last month I attended the Global MindED Conference in Denver, Colorado and was able to meet many wonderful people working toward improving global education. Conference attendees included teachers, administrators, policy makers, and technology and industry professionals. There was also a special group of students representing the next generation of our workforce. I spent some time talking with one of these students and was thoroughly impressed by her passion for STEM. Perla Bustillos is studying Computer Science and is a first generation college student. I was able to conduct a short interview with Perla, which you can read below.
Hillary: Did you enjoy science or math as a little girl? If so, what got you interested in STEM at a young age?
Perla: As a little girl I enjoyed science more than math. I always had trouble with math and my dad had to help me up until [eighth] grade. I think that I began to be interested in STEM because of the experiments we did in class. I thought it was so cool how we could learn about plants and actually plant them or dissect squids. I loved learning about the Solar System and Isaac Newton.
Hillary: Did you have teachers in your K-12 education or your college experience that inspired you to pursue STEM?
Perla: YES!!! Like I said I wasn’t a big fan of math, but that changed my freshman year in high school. That’s when my brain began to understand math and it was thanks to my freshman year teacher. She really believed in me and found different ways to teach math. It also helped me understand the importance of math.
Hillary: What do you enjoy most about your computer science classes?
Perla: So, computer science isn’t easy and that’s what I enjoy about the classes. I enjoy the challenge, I enjoy asking questions, and I especially enjoy the satisfying feeling that I get when I figure out the problem with a program that I built.
Hillary: Do you notice that there are more boys in the computer science major? If so, how do you think that affects women in STEM?
Perla: There are a lot of males in the computer science major. When I go to tutoring I am the only girl there or even in class there are only 3 girls in class. It can be intimidating and I think that is why women are afraid to go into the computer science field. But if that is what you want to do then the boy to girl ratio shouldn’t matter. Being a women shouldn’t define what career you take or how smart you are. A girl can do anything a boy can do. Don’t ever let men intimidate you. be confident and proud of the career you want to take.
Hillary: If you had to choose a different career besides computer science, what would you choose? Would it still be in a STEM field?
Perla: I don’t think it would have been in the STEM field. It has always been my dream job to be a model. I dream with walking on runways and being on posters. It is a dream job that maybe a lot of girls have.
Hillary: What is your biggest career goal?
Perla: My biggest career goal is to go to law school to be able to do Law in Technology in California and hopefully one day end up working at Google.
Hillary: What advice do you have for girls and women who enjoy STEM hobbies or are considering pursuing a career in a STEM field?
Perla: First, believe in yourself. You will have moments that make you doubt yourself but believe in yourself because if you don’t then who will? Just follow your heart and your passion and you will be unstoppable.
Thank you, Perla for sharing your thoughts with us! Girl Museum wishes you much success as you finish college and pursue your dreams!
Girl Museum Inc.