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Be Your Own Catalyst For Change: Thoughts From A Young Woman In STEM

By Veronica Reynoso

The future of tech, to me, appears bright in the hands of those who are eager and have an insatiable appetite to do good for others. Revolutionary discoveries are promising, but it can be hard to keep up–especially for a girl like me who started off with no funding or resources to create what I envisioned. Instead, I resorted to being the source– like the time I utilized the fungi in the muddy park pond and inoculated Vibrio Fischeri to create a lamp for my room, or when I used my body heat to power a headlight as a light source. One summer when we were younger, my friends and I took our old bikes to build a small windmill and power a radio. I encourage everyone to be the source.

Struggle is inevitable, but the only way to help yourself is by simply helping others. My experience in STEM projects has taught me that science is not a closed club full of intellectuals with secrets. Science and technology is an open field, meant to be shared for the benefit of humanity.

Augusta Ada Lovelace, the first ever computer programmer, was equipped with the right mindset and willpower to look at the unforeseen and the unpredictable and chase after it. Even now, the Analytical Engine is too complex for one to fathom. And still, people debate the extent and legitimacy of her contributions. This, however, does not discourage me–for it has encouraged me to see that what matters is the belief in oneself…that every girl is original and has something to offer. Females, despite how history has revealed that equal schooling and opportunity has not always been given to us, deserve everything this world can offer regardless of appearance, status, or money. Ada Lovelace taught me about how strength is not masculinity, it is the motion of continuity in times of difficulty and unfavorable circumstances. She also demonstrated how an important part of being a lady is evolving into someone strong and non-reliant, transforming from a poorly wired circuit to a catalyst of change. Lovelace was so heroic for not only endurance but for acting on her vision. She is the Wonder Woman in STEM that people do not always recognize.

There is natural intellect in each one of us. We all just need that one step, that one catalyst to spark our ignition. Mine just so happens to be mathematicians Katherine Johnson and Ada Lovelace, whose legacies inspire me to face mistakes, to deal with muddy trips to the park, the broken prototypes, and equations I can’t get right the first time. My failures were worth it because there were sparks flying (both from the prototype and me), yet there was a smile on my mom’s face knowing that I lowered the electricity bill. The feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment inside of me and my friends was indescribable when we saw the tiny LED lights shine from the numerous prototypes we made of the Piezoelectric flashlights in order to aid survivors in Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Destruction, what my fellow Californians recently faced in the wild fires, is a form of creation- in every unfortunate outcome, the smallest act surpasses all negativity and is what reclaims the loss in humanity.

The fear of unimportance and burnout is not worth going through because the world needs believers to re-patch and rethink the current courses of action. Ada Lovelace introduced us to the technological world; who knows what era could be introduced if no other women in STEM are held back from their goals.

“That brain of mine is something more than merely mortal, as time will show”.
–Ada Lovelace?

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Image courtesy of Veronica Reynoso

Veronica Reynoso

Veronica Reynoso


Eighteen-year-old student scientist Veronica Reynoso is known for creating light sources, like piezoelectric flashlights and ergonomic Band-Aids, which are powered by the heat of the hand. Among those closest to her, she is known for her misfit robots and fire-igniting failed prototypes. Reynoso has submitted projects to benefit her community, which all started from junkyard parts. She finds career inspiration from science fiction novels, women from history, and Sci-Fi television shows. Reynoso recently graduated from Kennedy High School in La Palma, California and is currently enrolled at Cypress Community College, preparing for her next step into university studies.

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