24 Years Ago Ellen Ochoa Was The First Latina In Space, Now She’s Heading To Astronaut Hall Of Fame


Twenty-four years ago, the trailblazing Ellen Ochoa became the first Latina in space. The NASA astronaut made history back in 1993, and continues to do so today. On May 19, she’ll be inducted into the US Astronaut Hall of Fame. “I’m honored to be recognized among generations of astronauts who were at the forefront of exploring our universe for the benefit of humankind,” Ochoa said, according to KCET. “I hope to continue to inspire our nation’s youth to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math, so they, too, may reach for the stars.”

Through her career, she’s done more than inspire younger generations of space exploration enthusiasts, she’s broken barriers. The 58-year-old California native – who is of Mexican descent – began her career at NASA in the late 1980s. However, she didn’t always expect to go into this field. In 1981, Ochoa was a PhD candidate looking to become a research engineering; Sally Ride also became the first US woman in space. That’s when she realized her true path.

“Putting that all together with my interest in space is what led me to apply [to NASA],” she said, according to NBC News. “You could do research in lots of different areas. The wide variety of tasks you could do with the space shuttle is something that really interested me.”

Continue onto Remezcla to read more about Ellen’s journey to the Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Booz Allen Hamilton’s Problem Solvers Campaign Celebrates Women Of Color In STEM Careers


While the names and enormous accomplishments of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson were left out of history books, these brilliant African American women are now getting the recognition they deserve with the release of the blockbuster film “Hidden Figures” in 2016.

In honor of Black History Month in February, Booz Allen Hamilton held a series of “Hidden Figures” screenings in theatres across the country. The firm encouraged its employees not just to attend the film, but to start conversations around diversity and inclusion that bridge differences across its social channels.

The firm continued the conversation in March, Women’s History Month, by launching a series of profiles featuring Booz Allen’s own brilliant women engineers. The series explores why these women chose STEM-related careers and how their technical skills and contributions are making a difference to solve some of the biggest challenges of today.

As a child, Velma emigrated to the U.S. from Crooked Island, Bahamas, population: 250. Now, in her 13th year at Booz Allen, she’s a principal in the firm’s civil and commercial business. With a background in industrial systems, and manufacturing engineering, Velma examines every angle of a problem to design truly optimized systems, strategies, and solutions.

Velma finds inspiration in attacking big challenges and helping people see beyond their circumstances to understand their true potential. “I love the look on people’s faces when the light turns on and they realize what they’re capable of.”

To ensure equality for women and minorities in the workplace, Velma says, “It’s essential to find and promote diverse talent for the sake of performance, not just diversity for its own sake. Studies show diverse teams derive better solutions because they bring diverse perspectives.”

Read the complete story on 3BL Media.

Sylvana Coche on Global Competitiveness, Mentoring and Diversity


Sylvana Caridi Coche is a woman on the cutting edge of technology. She is one of the elite who has not only watched but nurtured the shape of the IT movement from its inception. She has vast experience and insight when it comes to STEAM disciplines and is working diligently to not just talk–but to take action.

A highly respected expert who has been featured in a variety of magazines, she has received awards and is a sought-after speaker when it comes to STEAM topics. Coche works with myriad organizations across industries and readily provides her time to mentor others regardless of their discipline to give them the inspiration, insight and guidance they need to excel.

As of last year, the company she founded, Gravity Pro, became the largest SAP reseller in North America competing with big corporations such as the Big Four. She is also the only woman-owned reseller of SAP enterprise software in North America. Despite having risen to such heights in her career, she continues to stay determined to pursue her idea of what diversity should truly look like.

Coche grew up in Europe but has been living in the United States as a citizen for many years and is dedicated to helping this country compete on an international level. “My parents were Italian. They were poor and illiterate,” Coche says. “Just feeding their four children and keeping a roof over our heads was a daily struggle. Then, when I was 14, my father died, and life became even harder.” Having to deal with hardship and tragedy at such a young age could have had a negative impact on some, but Coche’s inner fire had her destined for greatness. In French, this is called ‘Vouloir, c’est pouvoir’–where there is a will, there is a way. And, Coche definitely had the dreams, aspirations and determination to create something bigger.  She knew there was much more written in the stars for her.

Her humble beginnings might be what some consider her internal drive to keep going and keep innovating, but it is her ability to look at things from a different perspective and see things in the universe as they are that is propelling her into these uncharted territories and is continuing to help her be successful not only in her career but also at whatever she does.

Her revolutionary thoughts on the meaning of diversity and how it creates an oxymoron prove that her grasp of the concept transcends the accepted standard.  Says Coche, “The word ‘diversity’ in itself entails that there is a separation of groups with one group leading and the other ones trying be a part of it.  In reality, this concept is really what we are trying to remove. There should be another word, like UNITY, which would be a much better way to describe what we are really trying to do.”

The real pressing question Sylvana is trying to answer is how do we bring back the U.S. economy? “We have to start thinking about entrepreneurship which has always been the fuel of the United States. If we educate and mentor the U.S. entrepreneur and help them grow, they will create jobs we in the U.S. — which we need for our country to prosper — rather than outsourcing this work to other countries.”

But Coche cautions that there are hurdles to be faced. “If big corporations are only buying from other big corporations who invest a large amount of profits back internationally or to their own shareholders, then the money never gets back to our economy.  It’s like a never-ending loop that doesn’t help us grow. We need to give suppliers that represent the population and know what different cultural communities need the opportunity to bid and win contracts because they will then invest back into the U.S. economy through their job creation and product innovation.  This will answer the different culture and gender needs that will create a new loop, one that will actually help us grow. This is really why there are legislations around diversity. To allow current and future entrepreneurs that represent the population of today and tomorrow to also get a chance to present their innovative ideas and bid against the large corporation. That is the true reason of Diversity, not so much in giving a chance to people who can’t perform get contracts.

Being an international woman entrepreneur, Coche has doesn’t have a jaded view of the issues that can plague an economy.  As she explains, “People get so focused in on the little details and there is always going to be a difference of opinion.  But, if they could step back and look at the bigger picture and understand that helping these diverse small business get contracts and grow, they are really helping themselves because a thriving economy is what will ensure a thriving future.”

She also foresees, the coming generation, which includes her two young daughters, as our salvation.   She believes this generation will be the ones who will save humanity and solve the biggest issues of today, and she and wants to teach others how to inspire this generation to take the tools we have created and think differently and creatively on how to apply and implement them into something that is beyond our wildest dreams — something that could actually solve the issues of humanity like famine, poverty and disease and we now have the means to do it.

Sylvana’s passion and drive are what we need more of in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing world. With her commitment to pursuing this avant garde vision along with her experience, know-how and determination, she is carving a previously uncharted path not only for tech entrepreneurs in IT management but for women and all people who want to have an opportunity for true fulfillment in life.

She is opening the doors of tomorrow and giving the next generation a view of what they can truly do or become.  She is leading the way for us as a society to not only be inclusive but to really understand the value that comes from UNITY.

The second issue we face is the fact that technology is growing and changing at an exponential rate. In fact, they say that in 10 years we will be a thousand times more advanced that we are today. Coche has been watching this growth and the evolution of her own industry of IT. “First there was programming and getting everyone on the platforms, going paperless and starting to track everything (ERP Era). Then there was all of data that needed to be archived, but luckily the cost of storage became lower than the cost of archiving so we kept all the data available. Then with the boom of the internet, and mobility consumers now have the power to choose who and where they buy products like never before. This is increasing the competition and giving a choice to consumers to buy from many companies and not just the large corporations as well as buying from a world with no frontiers. Today, with the inception of ‘big data’ the fact that we had stored all of the data allows us to look at the last 10-20 years and predict what will happen in the future based on that data. This is changing the dynamics of the companies and the market.”

Companies can now predict future market trends, doctors can predict and possibly even predetermine disease factors based on patterns of the past. Sylvana believes this will cause two things to happen; “Corporations’ functions will now basically all link to IT and we are going to need more STEM talent which we are not producing enough of. Second, the success of a company will be based on how well they can analyze data and how well they can predict what the consumer will need before anybody else. This is actually more important today than the brand and product which was the key to success few years ago.” This type of thinking will take what Coche calls, ‘a new brain’ people who can think differently and outside of the box to come up with a viable strategy for a company and that can ask the right questions and correlation between data and impact on the products, consumers and costs.”

Look at STEM statistics and realize that the United States is lacking in all categories based on the number of STEM people we will need. For example, they estimate that by 2018 there could be 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs and that as of now U.S. colleges are only graduating enough students to fill 30 percent of STEM jobs by 2020. The numbers just don’t add up and that is why we need to get the new generation excited and aware of what STEM will bring about and what it really means to our society. “I believe the next generation is going to be the most interesting part of history,” says Coche.

Her unique approach to getting kids involved is based around two ideals.  First, inspiration. “We need to ask these kids, do you realize where you are going and that you really can make a difference in humanity?” We don’t need the next generation to create the tools—that is what we have done, we need them to implement them. We need to stop criticizing the new generation of millennials and stop trying to mold them and make them fit into our views of society. They are the only ones who can actually save us.  We need to teach them by inspiring,  and we cannot put them in a box or category which will take away from their creativity and having an open mind. We need to give them confidence to do and think differently, and that is what will bring about the change we need.”

Second, we need to change the traditional views on mentorship, and Coche has a different approach to this as well. “We do not need to mentor by teaching technique or experience. The new generation is already more technologically advanced than we will ever be. We need to teach them a new philosophy on life and give them the understanding that they can do anything. We need to ensure that they are allowed to question and change and create and veer from the ways of the past. Keep them positive.  Take them by the hand and tell them to forget anything they hear about impossibility of anything. Support them and help them do what they are meant to do. Help them change our old belief systems that don’t serve us anymore.”

This brings up another interesting advance Coche has made to mentorship which is the realization that it doesn’t matter if you and your mentee are from the same field or industry. “We are not mentoring the exchange of skills, but more the exchange on philosophy of life and how to approach this new frontier we are facing. So, joining mindsets from different walks of life and skillsets will instill new values and thought processes and even approach when it comes to addressing the issues facing them in their field. This is a true mentor/mentee partnership — where the mentor learns as much from this new generation that the mentee to adapt to this major transition of generation of thoughts and leadership.” If we can help this generation keep an open mind and come to the realization that we are all just one group, they might be able to come up with the approach necessary to move us forward.

Even with all that she is already doing, when asking Coche what she plans to do with this knowledge and understanding of the bigger picture she already knows the answer. Because as those with a greater purpose usually do, she has a vision of where we need to be and is already taking the steps to bring that vision into fruition. “My goal is to create a center in France where leaders spanning the generations can come together and look at the world differently. To collaborate and really step back and try to solve the real issues of the world and humanity. To get away from the old belief system that has us stuck in this loop. To communicate on how we take all of this STEAM innovation and knowledge and use it to better serve our society and ensure that human rights are in the forefront of everything that we do. We need to remember that money and power aren’t everything and that happiness and fulfillment are our ultimate goals.” The center Coche is creating will give world leaders of different backgrounds a place to meet together on the same consciousness and understand the true value of UNITY within humanity. “My hope is that this will bring about a more cohesive understanding of different cultures and how we can come together through all the advancements of technology and implement them to create a better world where we can all stop fighting for political status and get back to the base of what we all want, happiness and fulfillment.”

For Coche, breaking barriers, pushing boundaries and navigating uncharted territories is something she has done not only her entire career, but though out her entire life. Instilled with the true entrepreneurial spirit of never settling for the norm or being satisfied with “good enough,” she has taken many risks to get where she is today but always stayed true to her vision within and even though sometimes harder, the unknown path that looks more difficult might lead you exactly where you need to be if you trust and believe that this universe had a greater plan for you. “We have pushed too many people to do things based upon what society thinks they should do or not. Listen to your heart and your instincts because only you can know what is best for you. You need to find what inspires you and what you are good at because once you have that, nobody will be able to beat you or take that away from you. I know it sounds so cliché, but it is so relevant Follow your instincts regardless of the society pressure and judgement we are victims of today. And once you passed that, don’t be your own limit by getting stuck in your own beliefs.”

Her message transcends beyond age, race, and social status and is meant for anybody; kids, entrepreneurs, workers at corporations, anybody looking for that joy and fulfillment in life. Her final advice, “Find your spot in society. Stop counting on others and blaming others for your path. This is your job to do. Go out of your way to help others; share and mentor to help the next generation continue to innovate and move forward and compete at our full potential.  Money is key because it is the measure of our success in today’s society but giving is the true definition of fulfillment, which contrary to what we think, giving is very selfish: when we give we actually get the most benefit by feeling fulfilled. That is the true secret.”

Coche’s message is one that we should all heed in our everyday lives. It’s very clear to see why she’s come as far as she has. Honoré-Gabriel de Rigueti said it best: “Aucun, mais les gens de forte passion sont capables de relever la grandeur,” which translates to “None, but people of strong passion, are capable of rising to greatness.” If you can find your passion and let it you take you where you’re supposed to be, then happiness and fulfillment are sure to follow. We can’t forget why we do what we do—we have to do anything we can to keep our vision in focus and our passions alive. If we all could only achieve Sylvana Coche’s level of passion for our own visions, we would all be on our own paths to greatness.

Dr. Joy McDaniel Is Creating A Cure For Most Aggressive Form of Breast Cancer


The young scientist and her team are aiming to close the mortality gap for black cancer patients.

Unfortunately, we all know someone that has been affected by breast cancer. Although black women face a lower risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer compared to white women, they paradoxically face an increased breast cancer mortality hazard ratio. Dr. Joy McDaniel and her team are one step closer to creating a cure for one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer and ultimately close that mortality gap.

According to AL.com, when McDaniel was just starting her PhD program, her best friend died of breast cancer at age 24. That made her desire to make a difference in this deadly disease “personal.” At the University of Alabama in Huntsville, McDaniel and her team found a key genetic insight into triple negative breast cancer. Triple negative is also one of the forms of breast cancer most likely to kill African American women. “One out of every three breast cancer diagnoses in African American women is triple negative,” McDaniel said.

By using publicly available DNA data and UAH gene sequencing technology, the team found a suspect in the protein STAT3. “We were able to identify the same binding pattern in actual triple negative breast cancer patients,” McDaniel said. “This was very important because, by identifying where the binding occurs, we have a framework for what genes are being turned on or off by STAT3. That was the first sign we may have identified something that may be important.”

The genes regulated by STAT3 turned out to be the same genes active in spreading triple negative breast cancer. The tendency of cancer cells migrating to other parts of the body and starting other tumors is called metastasis and it’s one of cancer’s deadliest characteristics.

Read more about Dr. McDaniels and her efforts on Blavity.

Google opens Howard University West to train black coders


Google is opening “Howard West” on its campus in Mountain View, Calif., a Silicon Valley outpost for the historically black university where computer science majors can immerse themselves in coding instruction and tech culture, not to mention the inner workings of one of the planet’s most famous companies.

Between 25 and 30 juniors and seniors from Washington, D.C.-based Howard University will spend 12 weeks at Google this summer, receiving instruction from senior Google engineers and Howard faculty and getting course credit for their studies, the Internet giant announced Thursday.

The program is an outgrowth of Google’s effort to recruit more software engineers from historically black colleges and universities, one of the ways Google is addressing the severe shortage of African Americans on its payroll, particularly in technical roles, where they account for 1% of the workforce.

Eventually Google wants to expand the program to include other historically black colleges and universities, said Bonita Stewart, Google’s vice president of global partnerships, who has been working with Howard University President Dr. Wayne Frederick to develop the framework.

Stewart says when she joined Google a decade ago, there was little talk of diversity or making the tech industry more representative of the populations it serves. Today, this Howard graduate says Google is making a serious investment in building bridges.

“For us, it is an opportunity to ensure that we are building a pipeline and more importantly, stimulating the right partnerships to drive change,” Stewart told USA TODAY.

Read the complete article on USA Today.

Johns Hopkins Has First Black Female Neurosurgeon Resident


In the 30 years that Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s neurosurgical department has accepted residents, there has never been a black woman in the ranks.

Now, Nancy Abu-Bonsrah is making history.

The prestigious program accepts just two to five residents, and is ranked second in the country. Among its most notable alumni: Dr. Ben Carson, who is now the United States secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

“I am very much interested in providing medical care in underserved settings, specifically surgical care,” Abu-Bonsrah said in a statement. “I hope to be able to go back to Ghana over the course of my career to help in building sustainable surgical infrastructure.”

Abu-Bonsrah lived in Ghana until she was 15, and also attended Johns Hopkins medical school.

Read more about Nancy’s achievement on CNN.

NASA highlights women in STEM with a virtual field trip


It’s a Google Expedition for International Women’s Day.

NASA and Google Expeditions are celebrating International Women’s Day with a series of virtual field trips highlighting the careers of seven women and their contributions to America’s space program. The tours are part of the Modern Figures program, which continues the conversation started by the film Hidden Figures, and allow viewers to step into a 100,000 square-foot aircraft hangar, a simulated Martian landscape, a space flight operations facility and other locations where NASA’s women engineers, scientists and directors work towards the next milestone in space exploration.

Continue onto Engadget to read the complete article.

‘What if female scientists were celebrities?’: GE says it will place 20,000 women in technical roles by 2020


GE is making a commitment to close the gender gap at its organization by promising to place 20,000 women in technical roles by 2020.

The company also wants to obtain 50:50 gender representation in all its entry-level technical programs, GE announced in a press release on Wednesday.

GE currently employs 14,700 women in engineering, manufacturing, IT, and product management, representing 18% of the company’s technical workforce.

The company also released a whitepaper on Wednesday looking into the economic benefits of a gender-balanced workforce. The study quoted OECD research, for example which found that closing the gender gap could increase GDP by up to 10% by 2030.

It also cited a 2004 study, from nonprofit workplace inclusion organization Catalyst, which found that more gender-diverse companies performed 53% better than those that are not gender diverse.

GE chief economist Marco Annunziata said in a statement: “Unless we bring more women into technology and manufacturing, there will be a significant negative economic impact on the sector. This is a problem for business to actively address.”

Continue onto the Business Insider to read the complete article.

NASA’s Youngest Researcher Poised To Be First Mexican On Mars


NASA’s youngest researcher Yair Israel Piña López, 20, might be on his way to Mars.

According to Remezcla, the National Autonomous University of Mexico student is among six crew members en route to Utah’s Mars Desert Research Station. Through intricate astronaut cosplay and individual research, the physics major is an essential part of making an eventual mission to the Red Planet possible.

“I’m very proud,” he said of his selection in a statement. “Now in Mexico we need to support each other to get ahead, and it fills me with pride to be able to carry the flag of Mexico on such an important mission, and make the first mission to Mars a real possibility.”

Here’s to making history!

Source: Vibe

This Woman Was The Navy’s “Hidden Figure”


Soon after Hidden Figures was acknowledged with three Oscar nominations, a woman named Raye Montague spoke with Good Morning America about her own experience as a “hidden figure” in the Navy, Yahoo reports.

“I’m known as the first person to design a ship using the computer,” she explained — and she was being humble. She actually designed it in 19 hours using a system she built even though she’d been given a whole month.

“And I was the first female program manager of ships in the history of the Navy, which was the equivalent of being a CEO of a company,” she added.

That’s quite an accomplishment for anyone, but as a Black woman in Little Rock, Arkansas, the road there was particular bumpy for Montague.

“Growing up in a segregated South, you never dreamed that these options were available to you,” she said. She remembers exploring a submarine with her grandpa and asking a man working there how she could work somewhere like it one day. “Oh, you’d have to be an engineer, but you don’t ever have to worry about that,” he responded.

She proved him wrong. Even though she couldn’t get an engineering degree because her first-choice school didn’t accept Black people, she got a business degree at a Black college, started in the Navy in 1956 as a typist, and learned engineering and programming while she worked.

Continue onto Refinery29 to read the complete article.

This 22-Year-Old Is Already An Engineer At NASA


Tiera Guinn is just 22 years old and she’s already working for NASA.

As a Rocket Structural Design and Analysis Engineer for the Space Launch System that aerospace company Boeing is building for NASA, Guinn designs and analyzes parts of a rocket that she said will be one of the biggest and most powerful in history.

Guinn, whose career trajectory seems like a sequel to the much-acclaimed “Hidden Figures” movie, has been aspiring to become an aerospace engineer since she was a child.

Her mom, who noticed her daughter’s skills from a young age, made sure to Guinn stayed sharp by putting her intelligence to use…at the supermarket.

“When [my mom and I] would go to the grocery store, she would get me to clip coupons [and] put it in my coupon organizer,” Guinn told WBRC News. “By the time we got to the register, I’d have to calculate the exact total, including tax. And I did that since I was six years old.”

“One day I saw a plane fly by and I just had this realization, ‘huh, I can design planes. I’m going to be an aerospace engineer,”’ Guinn said.

Continue onto the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

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