Public health junior and Women in Natural Sciences (WINS) outreach coordinator. Interviewed by Vivian Abagiu.
What have you gotten involved with here at UT?
I was a WINS student when I came to the University. It was one of the best things that happened in my UT experience. WINS is this really supportive female science community that is so unique. We cried together, laughed together, studied together and built such community. They always say that women don’t support each other, but that’s what we do in WINS. We’re a diverse group, studying diverse fields of science, and we’re all trying to win and help each other win.
Why major in public health?
Public health is rooted in advocacy, in lessening health disparity and noticing trends in different demographics. I’m passionate about that. It’s interdisciplinary, too. Right now, I’m taking an international advertising class towards my major. … I want to live my life in a way where I’m helping people who got the short end of the stick, who don’t have access or opportunity. I want there to be more equity.
What are some other passions of yours?
I’m one of those people who wants to do many things. I want to be a doctor, but I also want to be in policy, educate others, have a talk show – maybe, like, Doctor Oz and Oprah together. I’m passionate about STEM education and about representation. I think we need to see people in every corner telling different stories, so that people see that scientists, doctors, can be a black woman with big hair. If you don’t see yourself somewhere and don’t see people who look like you doing things you might want to do, then it is hard to imagine the future.
What were some early science experiences?
When I was around 5 or 6 years old, I did Mad Science, an after school science program. It’s hands-on, interactive science. It was something I looked forward to every Friday. If I was sick and had to miss a Friday at school, I would say, “Mom, at 3:00 when school gets out, I’ll be better.” I loved how they made science fun and playful. Later on, I worked there as a science educator. My boss was my instructor from when I was five. It was a great experience. I loved being high-energy –especially for third-graders who you want to keep engaged in Newtonian physics.
Any advice for new students?
Practice self-care. Taking care of yourself is important. … All these really hard classes, we just do it. We don’t make it look easy, because it isn’t. But we do it.
Catch Kayla’s interview of the three STEM deans at UT Austin, including Natural Sciences Dean Linda Hicke, Jackson School of Geosciences Dean Sharon Mosher and Cockrell School of Engineering Dean Sharon Wood.