Fashioning the Future With: Jacqueline Means
This is one royally rad post because we have Jacqueline Means, a.k.a. the STEM Queen, on the blog today! Jacqueline is the 16-year-old founder of the Wilmington Urban STEM Initiative. Jacqueline's program helps girls from neighborhoods in the notoriously dangerous Wilmington, Delaware area get involved in science, math, technology, and engineering by hosting Girls Empowerment STEM events. At these events, kids experience — hands on — how cool STEM fields are and that careers in STEM are achievable for them. They also hear inspirational talks from Jacqueline and guest speakers.
We are blown away by how cool Jacqueline is and by how much she's already accomplished in bringing positivity, through STEM, to her underserved community. Jacqueline is #TechForGood personified, and jumping jellybeans, we are excited to tell you more about her.
That's not all. The STEM Queen's accomplishments are practically endless! For example: Jacqueline's been a TEDx speaker and — like the true queen that she is — currently wears the Miss Delaware's Outstanding Teen crown.
We were thrilled to ask Jacqueline about her work with her Wilmington Urban STEM Initiative, what career she's set her sights on, how she came to be the president of her school's chess club, and more. Meet Jacqueline Means, the STEM Queen!
When did you first know you were a scientist?
I was about 7 years old when I fell in love with science! I had seen a really cool reaction between baking soda and vinegar, and from that point on I was fascinated!
What does it mean to you to be the STEM Queen?
In my eyes, to be the STEM Queen means embracing the fact that I love science, technology, engineering, and math — and not being ashamed of that.
What do you find most empowering about STEM?
That it’s all inclusive! No matter your gender, race, age, or anything else, STEM has something for everyone! I love that the field allows for diversity and opinions from people from all walks of life.
What is your ideal career path?
I’m going to be a neurosurgeon after getting my bachelor's degree from the University of Delaware and a medical degree from Johns Hopkins!
What inspired you to found the Wilmington Urban STEM Initiative?
A turning point came when I witnessed a person no older than myself get gunned down in the street near my home. I knew then that I had to offer help in some way — to provide a different picture of what life could be to those who were only getting one image of their potential future, so I founded Wilmington Urban STEM Initiative.
Do you have plans to grow the Wilmington Urban STEM Initiative to other cities?
I hope to raise the percentage of women in science, technology, engineering, and math fields from 29% to as high as possible! I would, of course, like to grow my Initiative to achieve that goal!
What do you enjoy most about sharing your experiences and knowledge through public speaking?
I really love that I get to spread my message of how important STEM education is! Public speaking allows me to spread my message to an even larger audience than just the young girls at my Girls Empowerment STEM Events — which lets me impact more people on an even greater scale.
What advice do you have for young people who want to get started in STEM?
Jump right in! STEM is exciting and scary and interesting all at the same time, so just dive right in and start researching and exploring to find out what you like, because there is something in STEM for everyone!
Your science parties look so fun! Is there one you’ve done that has been particularly memorable?
They are an absolute blast! Anyone looking for a cool and unique party can visit my website, STEM-Queen.com, for more info! My most memorable one would have to be my first slime party. The kids were having so much fun making the slime, but all I remember is glue, food dye, and borax going all over the place! It was a lot of fun!
Which scientists (modern day or historical) inspire you?
I just love Dr. Teri Quinn Gray! She is a chemist for the DuPont company and a wonderful person! She was a speaker at one of my first Girls Empowerment STEM Events, and she spoke about the importance and power of believing in one’s own abilities, which I still use to this day.
You’re the president of the Chess Club, how cool! How did you get into chess and what do you enjoy most about it?
I’ve been playing chess since I was 7 years old! My brother and I weren’t allowed to play outside because of the amount of violence in our area, so we had to find something else that was fun and that we could do together. I enjoy the thinking ahead, the strategy.
What are some other hobbies you enjoy in your free time?
I really enjoy teaching myself how to speak Japanese and watching Anime! I also enjoy learning American Sign Language and practicing my surgical sutures!
Do you have any favorite STEM characters in books/movies/other art forms?
One of my favorite characters in STEM, who happens to be a real-life changemaker, is Katherine Johnson! She is a mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent US crewed spaceflights. She even had a book and movie written about her called Hidden Figures!
If you were a superhero, what would your go-to wearable tech device be?
I would definitely wear a teleportation device! It’d be very useful in getting out of tricky situations!