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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Empowerment that helps us all

<e are a few things that make me feel empowered. The greatest and most important to me is knowing that I define myself through the identities I choose. People will inevitably slap identities onto me from the minute they meet me based on what I look like, how I speak, my name, my background, etc. A lot of the time they’re wrong. However, it doesn’t matter what people think of me or how they define me. As far as I’m concerned, I’m a biracial, third-culture (kid) and a woman in STEM. Yes, some of these are identities I can’t necessarily avoid, but they’re ones that I’ve consciously chosen to integrate into my everyday life.

Through these identities, I have chosen to use them not to my advantage, but for the benefit of others. I’m at Carleton for two reasons: to educate myself and to help others. I like to think that I use the former to achieve the latter. I’ve been on the board of MOSAIC for two years now, I’ve been a co-leader for the Women in Physics group, I’ve helped initiate the Diversity and Inclusivity group in the Physics department and I’ve worked at Admissions. My main goal through all of these organizations and jobs has been to help and benefit others.

Give them a space where they feel comfortable, give them a mentor and friend who has their best interests in mind, give them an honest perspective of Carleton when they’re about to make the huge decision of where to go to college.

This sounds a lot like I’m tooting my own horn. But the point is that these are the things that make me feel empowered as a woman. Knowing I can make a change. Knowing I can start a project or event or movement and feel confident that some good can come out of it. Knowing that my undeniable identity as a woman does not stand in the way of that. It doesn’t prevent me from doing the things that I want to do. And the truth is that the real world isn’t as forgiving and understanding and encouraging. So I’ve used Carleton as my means of developing skills that may require me to fight for the things that I believe in after I graduate.

Another great source of empowerment for me comes from the women in physics and women in science communities on campus. Being a woman and person of color in STEM is hard. Watching my fellow women in science succeed is a great part of my own success. Watching them overcome stereotypes on a daily basis and watching them do well in classes that are dominated by white men (and often downright kicking ass in them too) fuels me to keep fighting against those who’ve always told us we couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to do it. I don’t know if I could have done it without them.

I have recently become empowered by the fact that I have learned to depend on people. I struggle and sometimes I struggle a lot. Everyone struggles. Learning to lean on others for help was a hard pill to swallow. Doing so, especially as a woman, does not make me weak or dependent or any less of a woman. Acknowledging that I need help in fact makes me stronger, more resilient and forces me to reflect on my actions.

Lastly, the way I dress can affect how I feel about myself any given day. I dress myself every morning for myself and myself alone. It reflects my mood that day but also determines what I want to accomplish. Dressing up makes me feel powerful. Dressing down reminds me to relax. Either way, I can choose who I want to be that day and no one can get in my way.

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