Mary Cosentini is a junior computer science major at Temple University. Coming to college, she was originally undecided on what she wanted to study. She had an interest in math and turned to computer science due to its similarity to math. For her, learning math and learning to code were very similar. Taking classes were very straightforward with learning new materials and completing assignments, and by her second year Mary became antsy to apply her knowledge to real-world problems. She applied and was accepted to a summer internship at JP Morgan Chase in Wilmington, DE. The application and interview process helped boost her confidence in her ability to work in a technical field. “As much as I sometimes struggle with the material that I’m learning and feel like I’m not sure if I belong where I am, I am as smart and as capable as anyone else.” Her internship was very rewarding as well as very eye-opening to corporate culture. She really enjoyed working for a large corporation, but would also be interested in working for a smaller company or even doing academic research to get a variety of experiences.
Her older brother had studied computer science at Temple, so he was an early role model when Mary was deciding on a major. He has been very supportive in her studies, and she hopes to have the same opportunities in technology that he did. She has had some great male CS professors who helped her get exposed to the subject as well as build her confidence. She has not had many female professors she can turn to for guidance, but JP Morgan Chase helped her see confident women at various stages of their careers. Mary describes being a woman in computer science as a double edged sword. As a woman, she has a different viewpoint to bring to the table, which is valuable in problem solving. However, it is extremely hard to go into a class where no one looks the same as her. She can be self conscious when asking questions and worries about appearing whiny. Mary values female friendships and relationships, which she has struggled to find in STEM. Diversity is extremely important, and her best piece of advice is to avoid comparing yourself to anyone else. Not everyone learns at the same pace or has the same opportunities, so it is important to do what is best for you.
Megan Connors is a senior at Temple University pursuing a B.S. in Biology. She was first drawn to STEM at a young age by doing small experiments such as homemade volcanoes. This turned into an interest in biology once she entered high school due to the intricacies of the many systems of the human body. Coming to Temple, Megan originally wanted to pursue a career in medicine, but quickly got involved in research. She worked in a molecular biology lab researching prostate cancer. Her project involved studying the cell cycle effects of deregulating a tumor suppressor protein. The main things she enjoys about research is how it is a creative approach to science and its ability to constantly discover new things. Research was how she was able to apply what she learned in class to real world scenarios.
After getting her Bachelor’s, Megan is planning on taking a gap year before applying to medical school. She plans on working as a lab technician or participating in clinical research to expand on her existing scientific knowledge. She currently volunteers in Philadelphia with Back On My Feet, a nonprofit that uses running to help combat homelessness. Once a week she runs with members of a homeless shelter. If they meet an attendance requirement, they can progress to job development and housing placement. As a doctor, Megan wants to continue participating in community outreach, especially in places where there might be health disparities due to factors such as income.
Growing up, Megan had a hard time finding women role models in STEM. She credits her cousin Lindsay as early source of inspiration; Lindsay studied neuroscience before becoming an eye doctor. Temple was where she finally saw other women in science; there was one other female undergrad and multiple female grad students in her lab. One of the Ph.D. students in her lab acted as a mentor and coached her through lab techniques. Later on Megan saw her present her own work at conferences and win awards. Seeing her mentor succeed was very encouraging. Megan’s advice to younger students is to always pursue your passion and that anything is possible if it interests you.
Campus Representative: Kelly Devlin