On Tuesday, April 4, students, alumni, faculty and members of the community filled into Clair Performance Hall to watch a showing of “Hidden Figures”. Following the viewing was a discussion with three Millersville faculty members. Each faculty member shared some of their journey with the audience, including struggles they faced along the way, to get where they are today. They also offered some encouragement to any students who may be going through similar struggles.
The movie “Hidden Figures” gives light to the difficulty, stress and hardship that not only women, but African-American women faced in the 1960s when trying to pursue a job; nonetheless, a job in a field that mostly all men work. This movie gave great insight to how three brilliant women fought for justice, overcame obstacles along the journey to get to where they wanted to be, and how they changed attitudes of people who thought differently than they did.
The three panelists each spoke on the obstacles they faced and how they persevered past each obstacle to get themselves to where they are today. The panelists were Dr. Brusic, who is a faculty member in the department of Applied Engineering, Safety and Technology, Dr. Hepfer who is a faculty member in the department of Biology, and Dr. Uy who is a faculty member in the department of Physics. Both Dr. Brusic and Dr. Hepfer shared that as female high school students, they were discouraged from pursuing science and technology because their fields of interest were mostly male dominated, or they were told that career opportunities for women in science and technology were very limited.
Dr. Hepfer shared that her parents encouraged her love of science by allowing her to conduct various biology experiments at home. She said that her enthusiasm and stubbornness gave her the courage to persist through college, graduate school, and shyness to become an educator in the field of molecular genetics. Dr. Brusic shared that, “The number one way I overcame these obstacles was by relying on a mentor.” Dr. Brusic’s mentor was a faculty member she had met in her undergrad program.
Dr. Brusic said, “He literally took me under his wing, and showed me the ropes,” following this her mentor offered her a job as a student, he offered her work on a master’s degree, and lastly, helped her find her first job. All three panelists shared the importance of developing a strong work ethic, finding a good mentor to encourage and help you throughout the journey, and persisting even when it gets hard. So remember, even if you’re the first at something, if you feel alone in pursuing your dreams, or are nervous about the journey you need to take to get where you want to be, believe in yourself, don’t let others discourage you, and stay determined. They agreed that being part of the excitement of science and technology is a very worthwhile and achievable goal.