Through many studies at PayScale, we have found that there are fewer women entering and staying in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs, even though there is more attention on the subject than ever. Because of this, we were inspired to create a scholarship that is exclusively for women heading into STEM who plan to pursue a meaningful career in those fields. Out of over 7,000 applicants, PayScale has awarded two exceptional young women a $2,000 scholarship to help them pursue their STEM education and follow their dreams. Read about each of the scholarship winners to see why they impressed us so much.
(Photo Credit: Vall d’Hebron Research Institute/Flickr)
Mariam Verich, 18 years old, Houston, TX
Mariam Verich’s application rose to the top of the high school student category because of her incredible drive to impact the world using a degree in biomedical engineering. Mariam will be the first person in her family to attend college, and she comes from a culture and family where education is not considered a priority for women. But Mariam aspires to a professional career conducting research and finding cures for mysterious diseases that don’t have effective treatments, like rare types of cancers, especially cancers of the brain. Mariam is motivated by her community and the drive to give back. She is also aware of the huge lack of women in STEM.
“I’m hell-bent on destroying the notion that women can’t be successful in the STEM field, and I have to prove a point to all the people who doubted me solely based on the fact that I am a woman.”
It’s easy to see that Mariam is a passionate and determined young woman. And her best advice to other young women pursuing a STEM degree is that you have to persevere. In high school, Mariam was on her school robotics team, where seven out of eight members of the team were boys. Despite her constant attempts to get her ideas across to her team, it wasn’t until they became desperate and finally listened to Mariam that they won first place in their regional competition. If it weren’t for her persistence, her career path might have taken a different course. We’re glad it didn’t. Congratulations, Mariam!
Han Ngo, 20 years old, UCLA – Los Angeles, CA
Han is currently a student at UCLA, where she is pursuing a degree in biochemistry. Her major wasn’t something she just happened to fall into – she chose it for a very specific reason. After having multiple friends and loved ones diagnosed with diabetes, she realized that she wanted to help. In high school, Han excelled in STEM classes like AP chemistry and discovered that she was genuinely interested in the subject. Now Han wants to use her knowledge to carry out research that will better the lives of those around her, specifically those who suffer from forms of diabetes. After earning her BS at UCLA, she plans to go on to graduate school to prepare for a career in research.
Education was highly emphasized in Han’s household when she was growing up, but when it came to sciences, her family encouraged her to study easier and less stressful subjects. Not having the support of her family was difficult for Han, but she did not let that distract her from her dreams. And now that Han has received high marks in just about every class, her family now understands why this was the best path for her.
“To my women out there who are interested in STEM fields but are held back by the negative stereotypes, be brave and do what you love. Don’t let other people steer you or pressure you into doing something you don’t like. Believe in your own ability, and consistently remind yourself that you can do it. Finally, remember that there are many support groups and services out there like PayScale that are designed to help STEM women like us. You’re never alone! We’re all in this together!”
And Han is 100 percent correct. We need more women going into STEM. We need more diversity. And we needed it yesterday. Today, less than 25 percent of STEM jobs are held by women. But we can rest easier knowing that there are young women like Mariam and Han who are paving the way for other women to enter these subjects and making women in STEM a reality.
From all of us at PayScale, we sincerely congratulate you both on winning the scholarship. You are both great examples of strong female role models and we know you’ll do great things. We wish you both the best as you make your STEM dreams a reality and change the world.