Field trip to hear Mae Jemison to occur

First woman of color in space to speak at Carleton


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The convocation featuring Mae Jemison, the first woman of color to travel to space, will take place in Skinner Memorial Chapel at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.

Yonit Krebs

As of 2014, women constituted under 30 percent of Physics, Engineering and Computer Science degree recipients, according to a National Science foundation report. The same report found an even lower percentage of science and engineering degrees were received by people of color.

On Oct. 26, a few Park students will be going on a field trip to Carleton College and hearing from Dr. Mae Jemison, the first woman of color to travel to space, on these topics. According to science teacher Alexander Polk, the group will leave Park after third hour and will return in the evening.

“I found out about it through a professor over the summer who knew she was going to be there,” Polk said. “The reason I was able to push a little bit more for it is because that I also went to Carleton so I know a little bit about how the schedule runs and that events are usually open to the public.”

Polk said his connections to the college allowed him to set up a discussion with current Carleton STEM and Education majors for the Park students.

“As a part of the communication with some professors, we are going to have a small panel of current Carleton students that are either in STEM or education that we can talk to about their experiences, both at Carleton and also in high school, and stuff like what classes do they have to take to be at that school, what’s the environment like, that sort of thing,” Polk said.

Junior Tjessa Arradondo said she heard about the event through Polk and decided to attend.

“The first African American lady to have gone to space with NASA is going to come and speak at Carleton College, and students from the high school are invited to go, and I decided to go because my science teacher (Alexander) Polk said that I should go.”

Although she does not see herself entering into a STEM field, Arradondo said she is excited to hear from Jemison.

“I was really interested in the fact that I would get to meet the first African American lady to go up to space, and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see that,” Arradondo said. “I just wanted to see an inspiring speaker and maybe get something out of it.”

Polk said he thinks Jemison’s story will relate to the lives of the Park students attending the convocation.

“This is an incredible opportunity to be able to hear from her experience as a woman of color and how she had to overcome a battle to be able to get into the position in which she is,” Polk said. “I think there’s value in being able to see somebody that you might be able to resonate a little bit with, whether that be because you are a female or person of color or a female of color.”

Polk said he hopes that the students attending will be able to apply what they hear to their own lives.

“One of the biggest lessons that I hope comes from it is that life is not necessarily going to be easy but at the same time, you can fight through and kind of overcome,” Polk said. I will say that 90 percent of the students that are joining us are females of color and so to be able to take away that, I can fight something of the same sort because she came first. Not like I am fighting alongside her, but I am standing on top of her shoulders, so to speak, and recognizing and seeing who came before them, or us.”