Alumni Spotlight: Young Women in STEMJuly 31, 2018
by Lily Bermel, Future Blue Intern
As the summer is quickly wrapping up, I was able to squeeze in two more interviews with amazing Bow Seat alumni. One was with a high school peer of mine and the second was with a camp friend that I haven’t seen in a few years! It was really fun to be able to catch up with them and to learn how they were more uniquely involved with Bow Seat. And, they are each extracurricularly involved in cool environment-related opportunities.
Cleo Falvey majors in biology as a sophomore at UMass Boston. She participated in Bow Seat’s Ocean Awareness Contest with the Ocean Sciences Club at Brookline High School. As a leader in the club, Cleo played a central role in creating an art display on plastics and fish in our school’s science hallway.
Although this group project did not win an award, Cleo believes that the creation of the art display was not about winning, but in doing something for the school community. “I think that it still made an impact on people, that it made people stop and see what was going on,” she told me. I appreciated hearing how Cleo was focused on making a tangible impact, and with this positive mindset, she certainly represents exactly the activity that Bow Seat’s programs support.
“Bow Seat taught me more about ocean advocacy and how to get communities involved and together to create the greatest amount of change. This is a message I take forward with me in all areas of life in which I am an activist, especially in conservation education, but also in my activism for LGBT rights, women’s rights, and women in STEM.”
Emma McGurren attended Coastal Studies for Girls in her sophomore year of high school, and was given the option to submit an entry to Bow Seat’s Ocean Awareness Contest. She decided to submit an essay that interspersed research she did at her school with stories of her experiences there. “I think it was a really nice way to have [Bow Seat’s contest] incorporated into my school’s program. I liked writing for a purpose and for an organization instead of writing a paper for a class and a grade. It was about a topic that I cared about and I was submitting it to an organization that mattered,” Emma said.
Emma has continued to make sure she does more than what her classes or grades require of her. As a junior at Clark University, she has joined her college’s Environmental Club which helps host events for the campus — and she is part of a tutoring program for local girls that frequently incorporates environmental science.
As a major in global environmental studies and pursuing a minor in management, Emma brought up a great point in our conversation about advocacy. “When it comes to bringing awareness [to climate change],” she explained, “it’s important to pick a cause, to pick an ecosystem” because this helps the public be able to better understand and focus on the greater issue. Emma hopes to bring this mentality to her future work which would hopefully be as an environmental consultant.
Veterinary and graduate school is calling to Cleo for the near future. Right now, she is a visitor education volunteer at the New England Aquarium and a herpetology department intern at Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. She also works at UMass Boston’s Revell Lab studying the urban and rural ecology of the Puerto Rican crested anole, or Anolis cristatellus, a small lizard.
Both women are certainly bringing awareness to ocean and environmental issues in their communities. Thank you, both Cleo and Emma, for your work! You are an inspiration to us all!