When Ekemini Udofa was in high school, she noticed that she was often the only female in higher level courses for math and science—her favorite subjects. Being a woman of color added to Udofa’s sense of isolation in these classes, and she began to feel discouraged. At one point, she even considered switching to classes in other subjects. She turned to her father for advice, expecting him to tell her to take the easy road and enroll in other classes instead. To her surprise, he simply asked, “So what?” Recognizing her interest and potential in math and science, her father encouraged her to continue studying these subjects and not let her fear prevent her from pursuing her passion.
At that moment, Udofa decided to blaze ahead with confidence and courage. She stayed in her advanced math and science classes and worked even harder. Her father’s words stayed close to her heart throughout her undergraduate career, allowing her to delve deeper into her passion through her research and studies in science.
Today, Udofa is a scientist and PhD candidate in molecular medicine at University of Maryland Baltimore County. As a PhD student, Udofa constantly reaches out to out fellow female scientists and colleagues to collaborate and exchange ideas with. In doing so, she hopes to create a strong community that allows women in the STEM fields to support and encourage one another.
In this video by TEDxBaltimoreWomen, Udofa asks the question, “How are women and girls shaping the future?” She begins by talking about her “so what” moment, which fueled her passion for science. What was your “so what” moment that helped you decide your educational and career trajectory in STEM? Feel free to share in the comments section below!