Editor’s Note: As part of our annual GEMS (Girls Exploring Math and Science) program, we conduct interviews with women who have pursued careers in science, technology, engineering, or math. This week, we’re featuring Stephanie Thompson, Animal Care Technician at HMNS.
Make sure you mark your calendars for this year’s GEMS event, February 21, 2015!
HMNS: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thompson: I have always wanted to become a marine biologist and work with sharks. I got my chance to really sink into marine biology when I started working with Texas A&M Galveston in its efforts to help in the conservation and rehabilitation of sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico back in 2011. I got the job of Animal Care Technician at HMNS in 2014 then graduated with my degree in Marine Biology. Now I finally have my opportunity to work with sharks.
HMNS: How old were you when you first become interested in science?
Thompson: I was five years old when I realized I wanted to be a biologist.
HMNS: Was there a specific person or event that inspired you when you were younger?
Thompson: My parents took me to a beach in NC. We went to a pier and someone caught a shark and let me pet it. Since then I have always wanted to work with sharks and the ocean!
HMNS: What was your favorite project when you were in school?
Thompson: My favorite project in school was my fish collection project in ichthyology. I had to go out to various lakes and beaches in the eastern part of Texas and collect various species of fish throughout the semester. At one point I got to go out into the middle of the Gulf of Mexico for my collection and was accompanied by a pod of dolphins.
HMNS: What is your current job? How does this relate to science/technology/engineering/math?
Thompson: I take care of the live animals at HMNS. This means I feed them, clean their homes, and care for them if they are sick.
HMNS: What’s the best part of your job?
Thompson: The best part of my job is taking care of the sharks[in SHARK! The Touch Tank Experience]! It’s a dream come true.
HMNS: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Thompson: In my spare time I like to paint, work on projects in my mom’s wood shop, and spend time with family and friends!
HMNS: What advice would you give to girls interested in pursuing a STEM career?
Thompson: Never give up on dreams! It may be a long and difficult road but if it is something you really want to do then don’t let anyone or anything hold you back.
HMNS: Why do you think it’s important for girls to have access to an event like Girls Exploring Math and Science (GEMS)?
Thompson: It is important because the more girls who have access to these kinds of events means that it is likelier that these girls will be interested these fields in the future. There is not enough women in these industries right now, meaning that it is dominated by men. If more women became engineers, biologists, or physicists then the workforce would have different perspectives. With more women in these fields we could have better technologies and make more discoveries about the world around us!
GEMS is always looking for organizations to share enthusiasm about science and math with young students. If you are part of an organization that would like to participate in GEMS, applications are available here!