It was my great pleasure to recently attend what proved to be a truly inspiring wrap-up of national Black History Month—namely, an African American Living Wax Museum event hosted by the 5th-grade class at Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Washington, D.C.
The school kicked off the event this year to recognize the contributions of African Americans in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, as well as to provide hands-on learning experience for the 52 participating students who had to use their research, writing, and oral-presentation skills to portray these individuals—Daniel Hale Williams, George Washington Carver, Sarah E. Goode, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Mae C. Jemison among them.
So, it was my great honor to not only attend as an invitee but also as the subject of a portrayal by the engaging and talented Tiana Bui, a student in Mrs. Jacqueline Marshall’s 5th-grade science class.
Tiana had emailed me prior to the event for some biographical details to supplement what she had researched about me through secondary sources.
Let me just tell you how impressed and honored I was, standing among the proud parents, guardians, and school staff that evening!
Tiana had me down to a tee—from details of my childhood in Augusta, Georgia—and receiving my Ph.D. in Wood and Paper Science at North Carolina State University—to crafting science and technology policy as a senior analyst at the White House and currently serving as ARS Administrator. And the sharp black suit Tiana wore added an extra touch!
However, I was most impressed by the dedication, creativity, poise, and commitment of Tiana and her classmates in their portrayals. These same traits will serve them well as they grow and blossom into our next generation of STEM professionals and innovators.
And from what I saw and heard that evening, we are in good hands!
Let us, in turn, redouble our efforts to foster these students’ development and make sure they have every opportunity to continue the tradition of scientific excellence achieved by the women and men they worked so hard to portray in the African American Living Wax Museum.