Today I don’t want to talk to you about natural looking results, plastic surgery or skin care. Today I want to talk about something that most of us don’t talk about enough…kids— Girls, specifically.
It’s no mystery that there aren’t a lot of women working in the hard sciences, and it’s not that they can’t or don’t want to. I feel as though the biggest “missing” piece of this puzzle is that many young women and girls simply don’t get the support and encouragement they need especially during their formative years. That’s why, in 2015, I started my Women in Science Scholarship, which we are currently taking applications for. I will be awarding $5,000 to a deserving recipient in early 2018.
Why am I doing this? For me, the reason is very personal. When I was a young student, I was met with many challenges, including financial. I also experienced a lack of encouragement from many working in education that should have been encouraging me to follow my passion for medicine. I actually had a guidance counselor tell me to abandon my dream of becoming a doctor. “Stop wasting your time.” she said, “you will never get into medical school.”
Obviously, I didn’t listen to her and followed my passion regardless of how bumpy that road became. However, to this day, memories of this particular instance and many others like it are still fresh in my mind.
I have to wonder how many potential female doctors, scientists, chemists, biologists, etc., this particular guidance counselor and others just like her actually succeeded in dissuading? What a disservice to those young women and the countless people that could have benefited from the contributions these “would be” scientists could have made.
I can’t change the fact that a person who was supposed to be a source of guidance and encouragement actually attempted to discourage me from becoming the surgeon that I am today. However, something I can do is to be a source of encouragement, mentorship and support for female students perusing an education in science.
Last year’s “Women in Science” scholarship winner was a high school senior who is now a nursing student. I invited her to shadow me for a day in my surgery center to give her some first hand experience.
We both learned a great deal that day, and I look forward to many more like it.
I believe that mentorship is as important as financial support, because sometimes…girls just need to be told, “they can do it”.
Where would I be if I had listened to my health sciences advisor?
Certainly not where I am today.
My scholarship is open to all female Arizona residents pursuing an education in the hard sciences (i.e., medicine, pharmacology, engineering, biology, chemistry, physics). They can be high school seniors, current students or even non-traditional students. There is no upper age limit: I want to acknowledge that there are many paths women might take to their career in science, and I don’t want to risk cutting someone out who would be a great candidate just because she didn’t take the “typical” educational or career path.
For me, it feels good to give back, and if anyone reading this is also a doctor or scientist, maybe you’ll consider doing something similar for those in your community.
As for you girls (and women) wondering if you should apply– the answer is simply: yes. There is no penalty for giving it a shot. I’m proof of that.
The Patti Flint Women in Science Scholarship will be accepting applications through January 30th.
To access the application, visit https://www.pattiflintmd.com/dr-flint-scholarship
Applicants will need to have a letter of recommendation and be prepared to answer a few short essay questions.
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