My name is Annette Prah, and I am a rising senior at Riverside High School in Leesburg, Virginia.
Earlier this spring, I applied for a summer STEM program at George Mason University called Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program (ASSIP). I was selected to partake in the seven-week program at the Institute for Advanced Biomedical Research through George Mason University. I am currently studying cell structure, cartilage repair, and histology in relation to bone tissue and cells. With my mentor, Dr. Caroline Hoemann, and lab partner, we have been working on staining slides of bone and cartilage tissue to view which method is more effective in identifying a particular cell type. We are using this data to quantify our hypothesis regarding tissue damage and repair.
While I was completing my application, one of the questions which appeared was “Who is someone who inspires you?” Most people would think a coach, teacher, even their parents. The first person who came to my mind was Mrs. Danielle Blunt Craddock.
The thing I find most inspiring about her is her selflessness and dedication to helping young girls discover their passions. She inspires us to find our areas of interest and passions whether they be studying in a lab, starting a business, or becoming a writer. With this, she also helps us find ways we can apply these interests towards our future goals and career paths. Through the many camps, workshops, and conferences I’ve attended, I’ve developed my passion for science and medicine more and more.
I first met Mrs. Blunt Craddock about five years ago as a middle schooler attending my first GIRL program. In the beginning, I was a bit nervous as this was the first time I’d attended a structured workshop focused on girls in STEM. However, I quickly warmed up in the inspiring and supportive environment full of girls like me with similar interests.
All of the programs I’ve attended through GIRL and FOCUS (Females of Color Underrepresented in STEM) camp have given me such great access to meet countless mentors, opportunities to network, and chances to learn each and every time.
I participated in the FOCUS Academy in the summer of 2018, also sponsored in partnership with GMU. In this week-long residential camp, I, along with a group of high school girls, was able to participate in lab experiences, coding lessons, and presentations about how we could apply the skills we were learning to real-life and future experiences. All throughout the week, I was able to meet and bond with like-minded girls with a drive for STEM.
Each of these programs, workshops, and camps offered by GIRL are so crucial; they inspired me to achieve and strive for careers that are underrepresented by women. It is even more motivating for girls like me to see women from underrepresented backgrounds in STEM fields. The mentors I’ve met, such as engineers, doctors, forensic pathologists, computer scientists, writers and more, have done so much to offer me advice and guidance as I progress through high school and college. The whole community created by the GIRL program makes me feel that I’m substantially prepared to pursue STEM-related professions in the future with the skills I’ve gained and resources available to me. I truly believe that these are all experiences that I may not have had in my everyday life without being part of an organization such as GIRL.
After I graduate high school in the Spring of 2020, I am eager to continue researching biology in college. I hope to use the experience and knowledge I gain to enter the medical field and practice Sports Medicine/Orthopedics.
In the future, I’d like to pay it forward and impact a young girl’s life in the way Mrs. Blunt Craddock has impacted mine, either by participating from a mentor’s perspective, or even by creating a similar program in my community.