Women in science have long sought to be heard, acknowledged, and credited for their astounding work in science and contributions. Strong and intelligent women who became leaders in a field dominated by men by fighting for a right to study at University, despite being the only female in the class, or fighting for equal rights as a black student to be considered for a job at scientific NASA.
Today, we have made much progress (still more is needed!) and we celebrate each victory for equal rights and opportunity for women. In this interview, you will hear from Christelle L. Etienne, junior at Towson University. Christelle Etienne is a double major in nursing and foreign languages with a concentration in French including a double minor in entrepreneurship and psychology. She is a lead peer educator for Diverse Minds which is affiliated with the counseling center.
Other prominent positions held include:
French Club (Vice-President)
Alpha Kappa Psi (Academic Chair)
Phi Sigma Pi (General Secretary)
NCNW (National Council of Negro Women)
NRHH (National Residence Hall Honorary) [Vice President of Recognition]
URG Advisory Board Representative
NSCS (National Society of Collegiate Scholars)
Order of Omega
Xfinity On Campus Ambassador
The goal for Christelle is to become either an Emergency Room or Intensive Care Unit nurse. Here is our interview over female empowerment, stereotypes, who inspires her, and how personal impact has shaped her experience in science.
As a female, how does your work and education empower you?
“Women have always been seen as weak or someone who can’t handle a lot. I am someone who is involved in a lot while managing school and seeing that I make an impact in my outside work and still succeed in school makes me believe more in myself and that I can achieve anything I want. My parents have always taught me that education is key and I live by that phrase every day. My knowledge is what will allow me to stand for what I believe in, advocate for others and also create a better life for my parents and future generation in my family. I am an immigrant with no big names, my education, my knowledge is the only thing I have that will make me stand out in any room that I walk through.”
How has studying in a scientific field impacted you personally?
“Where I am from, which is Haiti, there are these stereotypes that say women are only good in letters which means that women are only good in English, literature, etc. I am part of that minority who always liked science, who always did better in science than English for example. Being in a scientific field can be hard; overcoming multiple challenges has made me a stronger person. The impact was not always positive; I have dealt with imposter syndrome several times and questioning my ability used to be a habit of mine. Being able to pull myself back up when I fell is not always easy but this field has changed my mindset to a positive one and this is what keeps me going alongside my dream.”
How are you empowering other women through your work in science?
“I believe that I empower other women by consistently doing my best in my coursework. I am still a student, sharing the highs and the lows of my journey is how I hope I empower others.”
What are some stereotypes about women in science that you would like to break? How are you helping to change that?
“Like I mentioned in a previous answer, one stereotype that I also personally encounter is the idea that women are only good in the liberal art field (for example an English major). This is a stereotype that irritates me every time I see someone being a victim of it. The way I am helping change that is by breaking the circle. One way I believe that I can combat and help change it is by pursuing my dream. I have always wanted to be in this field. My passion is helping others and becoming a nurse then hopefully going to medical school and becoming a doctor. Showing little girls that if this is what they want, they can do it is my way of helping.”
Who are some admirable female scientists you look up to? Who inspires you?
“Valerie Thomas, Estelle Massey Osborne, my parents, and brother inspire me. As well as every single black woman pursuing this field inspires me.”
What is the best part about what you do? And what is your end goal in life?
“Science is fascinating to me. One thing I love doing is lab. With Covid-19 right now, all my labs are online, unfortunately. I also can’t wait to start clinical. I love hands-on activities and being able to practice what I study in class is one of the best parts. One of my end goals in life is to see my work as an advocate for the non-English speaker to have more resources to combat the language barrier in the health system come to life. Another end goal of mine is to be happy and make my family, especially the one back in Haiti, proud of their little girl who only had a dream that she turns into reality. Lastly, I would like to be able to go back to my home country and play my part in the health system there too.”
Ana Oelen | @ana.oelen