Jacqueline Means lives in one of the most dangerous cities in America, yet is defying stereotypes and overcoming barriers to become a STEM role model for young girls in her community. At just 16 years old, Jacqueline has already founded a nonprofit organization that has served over 350 girls. The nonprofit, Wilmington Urban STEM Initiative, hosts hands-on science workshops for girls and invites influential women to speak and make connections with the students. Jacqueline wants young girls in her community to see the many options they have for the future.

Jacqueline is not only an advocate for STEM; she also competes in pageants. While leading the science workshops, Jacqueline wears her pageant crown and sash, again defying stereotypes and demonstrating to young girls that they can be multifaceted even when convention tries to tell them otherwise. Jacqueline and her nonprofit organization will continue to work with girls throughout Delaware to get them interested and involved in STEM. She believes that by inspiring these girls to pursue STEM education, her entire community will improve.

How do you think STEM education affects a community? How do you think educational workshops and other similar events affect girls’ long-term interest in science and math? Join the ongoing discussion on Vialogues.

Excerpts from the discussion:

@00:54 Melanie Hering: STEM fields have a long reputation of being exclusive, and they are such powerful communities to be a part of because of their effect on everything from infrastructure to medical care to online resource access. If STEM education is strong in a city that is struggling, there is greater chance for young people to grow up and push at the exclusivity of STEM careers and build up their community.

@02:40 Anna Curry: There are narratives in our culture that make is seem that STEM is only for boys. Events like these can break these stories and open young girls up to new possibilities. For some who have an interest, these events could affect their trajectory in the long term.