Name: Kathleen Bennallack
Company: University of California, San Diego
Title: Ph. D Student (Archaeology)
Was there a person in your life that encouraged you in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and/or to enter your specific field? If so, please tell us a little bit about how she/he encouraged you:
Kathleen: I can’t think of one person in particular, but I did have a high school teacher who made me really like chemistry. Since I liked chemistry, my dad really wanted me to be a pharmacist, which I didn’t end up doing, but I do still do a lot of chemistry in my job. When I decided I wanted to do archaeology, I didn’t know how to do it, I wasn’t sure I had enough experience, and I was worried about leaving my regular office job. I brought it up to my friend’s dad at her law school graduation, and he said, “Don’t worry – I quit being a nuclear engineer to be a professor, and then I quit being a professor to be a lawyer. I wasn’t equally successful at all of them, but it was what I wanted to do, and it made my life better. You’re not getting any younger or happier, but one of those you can control.” So, not specifically about STEM, but about not letting fear (of failure, of the unknown, of insecurity…) get in the way of what you know you want to do. Your path may be surprising, but you should never make your decisions out of fear.