Society Member Spotlight: Danielle Turner – “Better World Grant” Recipient
By B. Pasapane on Jun/27/2016
Congratulations to “Better World Grant” recipient Danielle Turner, from the Society chapter at Georgia Southern University.
Danielle Turner, a Society member since September 2013, is a biology major at Georgia Southern University. As a “Better World Grant” recipient, she is pursuing a service project of setting up a seminar series that is focused on exposing young minority girls to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) related careers.
Today we are happy to share with you part one of Danielle’s progress toward fulfilling her dream.
“Making a Better World”
By Danielle Turner
Former NFL football head coach Jimmy Johnson once said, “The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.” This motto encapsulates my drive for scholastic excellence. I decided at age eleven that I wanted to be an extraordinary daughter, friend, sister and, one day, doctor, and I have been working towards this achievement ever since. I was motivated to come to the decision to pursue a future career in the medical field after my mother died from colon cancer, leaving my dad alone as a single parent. Being my parents’ only daughter, this loss left me as the sole female in a male dominated household surrounded by three brothers and my father. It was extremely overwhelming, especially as I entered adolescence. School became an ultimate getaway and I found familiarity and solace within the field of science.
At the time, very few girls in my school, especially of color, were interested in science. I would belittle my own academic talents to be accepted, which led to many uphill battles dealing with low self-esteem and character identification. School was still my comfort zone but I found myself lost in the crowd and especially at home where my needs were constantly being overshadowed. Luckily for me, female family friends and coaches helped me subdue the darkness associated with self-perception and I can only anticipate repaying the same favor to another girl.
As a biology major and chemistry minor at Georgia Southern University, I have witnessed the importance of science in daily life and the advancement of our society. Both my major and minor are included in a subcategory of a larger area of interest called STEM. The fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are all housed under the umbrella of STEM, which is one of the fastest growing disciplines in the world. Despite the expeditious growth, STEM careers are well behind their times. According to the National Board of Science, in 2010, women occupied only 27.3% of science and engineering relating jobs in the United States and minorities only accounted for a heart wrenching 1% of science and engineering jobs. These statistics are not only alarming, but are also a beacon of hope; growth for young minority girls should be implemented in our cultural values and is a necessity to aid in the fair representation of the general population in STEM.
In addition to statistical evidence, President Obama signed an executive order in 2009 that created the White House Council on Women and Girls, whose sole purpose is to ensure that federal agencies take into account the needs of women and girls during policy making and program formation. The Council has been a strong advocate for the Women in STEM Movement, which promotes the involvement of women and girls, especially from underrepresented groups, by enhancing the engagement of girls with STEM subjects in formal and informal atmospheres, encouraging mentoring to support women throughout their academic and professional endeavors, and aiding in efforts to retain women in the STEM workforce.
I am passionately seeking to join the movement that has been in progress for that past few years. Through this initiative, I am taking a step towards implementing a program that will provide young girls with an environment where learning is fun and confidence is key! In addition to being an advocate for academic excellence, I am also a promoter of positive self-image and personal growth. It is necessary to intertwine both academic and personal goals, because ultimately, the balance will lead to an enhanced, sustainable ambition to reach one’s goals.
The Youth Enrichment Seminar Series (YESS) is a program designed to increase an interest in STEM related careers among minority girls while promoting positive self image and healthy relationship building. I not only want to serve the community but I want to encourage fellow STEM majors and activists to join me on this journey. I honestly believe that with knowledge comes power, and it should be free of charge. This program will be free to the public and conducted in various underrepresented counties across the state of Georgia. My vision is to orchestrate a program that will shed light on the importance of women in STEM careers and the importance of character development and personal growth in all aspects of life.
I have a sincere appreciation for this program idea because it was a collaborative effort. My success networking team, which was introduced to me by The National Society of Leadership and Success, helped me to formulate the idea and gave me encouragement in taking the lead for the project. The Society has also given me insight on how to transform a dream into an achievable goal, all while showcasing both leadership and servitude. I enjoy watching speaker broadcasts, both new and old, for encouragement and creative insight on how to execute my ideas and passions. During my membership in the Society, I have learned to face my fear of rejection and setbacks head on. Hearing about the struggles of others and how they were able to turn those struggles into successes is comforting. My fellow chapter members inspire and challenge me to strive for excellence, professionally and academically, so I can be well equipped and certified to guide young women down a rewarding path.
I am confident that with the support of my chapter and fellow STEM volunteers, YESS will help restore confidence in the community and young participants; a confidence that is founded on the belief that minority girls are worth the investment. With this local change, the program will serve as an important link in the widespread global impact STEM education will bring. I uphold and identify with the mission of The National Society of Leadership and Success, “Building Leaders Who Make a Better World.” With this project, I intend to do my part in changing the world through a zealous passion for STEM and service to the community. Medicine is a key component of my long-term career goal, but female empowerment for women of color is my life-long duty. Ultimately, I want YESS to be that little bit of “extra” a young girl needs to pursue her dreams and, perhaps, lead her to one day change the world.