Alumna Startup Aims to Empower Women


Yeho Hwang

NYU alumna Anna Powers started Powers Education, aiming to offer the support and guidance needed for women high school students to succeed in the fields of math and science, hopefully adding to the female presence in STEM research.

Lucy Hwang, Staff Writer

It’s no secret that women are underrepresented in the STEM fields. So NYU alumna Anna Powers decided to do something about it, launching her startup Powers Education, which aims to provide mentorship and tutoring services for high school students to increase female presence in STEM fields, at the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute on Friday.

Powers is a Core Curriculum fellow and has a Ph.D. in chemistry. She began developing Powers Education in October 2015, and has been dedicated to its growth ever since. The launch event began with Powers introducing the goal of the startup.

Powers Education seeks to equip women with the skills they need to succeed in STEM fields, offering one-on-one and group tutoring sessions. Master classes headed by Powers are also offered.

For Powers, teaching science has always been part of her life. She saw mentoring women as part of her passion and skillset.

“In many ways, I believe in education,” Powers said. “There is a real need for women to see that there are other people like them doing this because you want to feel like you belong.”

CAS senior Anahit Stepanyan began tutoring after meeting Powers in an elevator in Silver this past summer.

“When I was in high school, I did private tutoring for after-school programs,” Stepanyan said. “[Powers] pitched [the idea] to me and asked me if I wanted to tutor some students for her.”

Since then, Stepanyan and Powers have been building a relationship not only based on mentorship, but also friendship. Stepanyan said working with Powers broadened her networking experience within science.

Bruce Padron, a CAS IT support specialist and former student of Powers, said mentorship should be more than meeting someone for a brief period of time.

“If there could be more connected relationship that you could have with someone, it inspires you to learn better,” Padron said, adding that mentorship and tutoring should have a lasting impact on a student.

Powers added that women tend to face more negative stereotypes when it comes to math and science fields. She hopes that company would be a supplement for that stigma.

“Our society is moving in a way that everything is driven by science and technology,” Powers said. “We would enrich our society if we had the other half as equally represented.”

GSAS Master’s student Weihong Xu attended the event and said it was not only a networking experience but was also an opportunity to further women’s involvement in science.

“I agree with Dr. Powers in that more women should be involved in science,” Xu said. “I think I’ll become a better tutor after being in this company.”

Another student in attendance, CAS senior Nikela Smith, said getting involved with Powers Education would be an opportunity to begin her own tutoring service in the future.

“I think this will be a great platform,” Smith said. “I think it will give me a lot of experience. I didn’t have a mentor [in college]. I want to help somebody who was in my position because it’s hard to ask for help, so I want to offer it.”

A version of this story appeared in the Monday, May 2 print issue. Email Lucy Hwang at [email protected].