News From Masters
Upper School student Arjahn Cox was part of a delegation of local students selected to attend a White House forum on science, technology, engineering and math on December 15.
The program – “Celebrating Hidden and Modern Figures: Four Eras of Technical and Scientific Women in Space Exploration” – included remarks by First Lady Michelle Obama. It also featured stories about women who have made significant contributions to space flight, space science and innovation, yet their stories are largely untold. The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) event was hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Referring to Michelle Obama’s speech, Arjahn says, “The part that stuck out the most was when she said, ‘You don't come up with the right answer if everyone at the table looks and thinks the same.’ When she said this, I was reminded of Masters and how fortunate we are to have such different people in our community, and since we have different people we have so many different ideas.”
Arjahn, whose goal is to become a civil engineer, says she was also inspired by the other speakers, including Valerie Jarrett, a Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls. In her speech, Ms. Jarrett said, “You can't be what you can't see," according to Arjahn. “This was very inspiring to me,” the sophomore adds, “because it showed me that even though there aren't many women in STEM fields, it is my job to seek them out or to become a woman in STEM, and to be an inspiration for those younger than me.”
The program included a Q&A session with a panel that included Yvonne Cagle, an astronaut; Debbie Martinez, an engineer at NASA Langley Research Center; and Dava Newman, NASA Deputy Administrator. Megan Smith, U. S. Chief Technology Officer, moderated the discussion.
Arjahn was also thrilled to see a special screening of Hidden Figures, a new movie about three brilliant African American women who worked as mathematicians at NASA and helped to create computations that enabled astronaut John Glenn to become the first American to orbit the earth in 1962. The screening was followed by a discussion with cast and crew members of Hidden Figures, including actors Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe, Octavia Spencer and Kevin Costner; Ted Melfi, the director; and Margot Lee Shetterly, the author of the book upon which the movie is based.
Arjahn was one of several high school and college students who attended the event as a delegation from the STEM Academy at Sister to Sister International, Inc. (STSI), a local organization that advocates for the advancement of women and families of color, with special focus on the areas of education, global affairs, and health and wellness. STSI’s programs and activities for youth promote academic enrichment, mentoring, life skills and global awareness.
“Arjahn is a role model in our engineering cohort,” says STSI Founder Cheryl Brannan. “Her evolving role includes co-chairing our engineering cohort and serving as a liaison between our students and engineering professionals. Both she and her mom are also expected to serve on our newly created Science Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Advisory Board, as parent and student representatives.”