STEM Women Seek to Inspire the Next Generation at NYU

Two STEM professors spoke to female Tandon students about their careers and passions in STEM fields.

During+the+STEM+2020+summit%2C+Speaker+Dr.+Yasmine+Ndassa+delivered+the+keynote+address.+She+spoke+on+transferring+her+skills+from+molecular+biophysics+to+business+analytics+and+her+personal+journey+as+a+woman+in+STEM.+%28Photo+by+Min+Ji+Kim%29

Min Ji Kim

During the STEM 2020 summit, Speaker Dr. Yasmine Ndassa delivered the keynote address. She spoke on transferring her skills from molecular biophysics to business analytics and her personal journey as a woman in STEM. (Photo by Min Ji Kim)

By Min Ji Kim, Contributing Writer

NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s Office of Student Affairs held its annual Women in STEM Summit on Thursday, March 5 in hopes of inspiring young women to pursue the fields of math, science and tech.

The ninth annual summit was held as a panel featuring Senior Director at Comcast Yasmine Ndassa and Managing Director of Cleantech Initiative at the Urban Future Lab at Tandon Pat Sapinsley. 

The event brings female educators, scientists, alumni and corporate sponsors together with female students to not only talk about cutting edge research but also to act as a networking opportunity, said Associate Dean of Student Affairs at Tandon Anita Farrington, who spoke to WSN about the purpose of the event.

“[Tandon] is one of the most female-friendly STEM institutions in the country,” Farrington said. “That is a testament to the work that all of us here have done.”

Ndassa and Sapinsley told students about their own personal journeys in STEM. 

“Here’s the thing,” Ndassa said to the audience. “You go to school. You’re going after the degree. And the year that you defend your thesis, you’re like, ‘So this is almost over. What am I going to do with my life?’” 

Ndassa recalled one of her mentors in college, who challenged her to obtain the highest point of education she possibly could because it would give her the freedom to pursue whatever interests she liked.

“You can do whatever the hell you want to do and nobody can tell you that you cannot,” Ndassa said. “As a girl, as a woman now, I loved that power.” 

She would eventually make a switch in careers from molecular biophysics to business and become the Senior Director of National Sales Strategy & Insights at Comcast. Ndassa noticed the connection between solving problems in the scientific process and business.

“I decided that was going to be my career challenge,” Ndassa said. “I was going to take the methodology that I learned as a scientist and take it and test it in other aspects. And it just so happened that I’ve always been interested in business.”

Sapinsley discussed her own experience of switching industries. She has worked in architecture, venture capital and as a climate change researcher.

Cookies were served to attendees of the luncheon event. (Photo by Min Ji Kim)

Steinhardt Digital Media Design graduate student Roxy Ho told WSN about her personal struggles of finding women to look up to in her field. Her own background in sales strategy and STEM influenced her decision to go to this event after reading Ndassa’s profile. 

“I was like, ‘I need to go, I need to hear from someone who has gone through this,’” Ho said.

Catherine Tissot, who works at NYU Courant Institute as a program director for GSTEM (a summer program for girls and other underrepresented minorities) to do STEM research projects over the summer. She came to learn about stories of successful women in STEM and see what she could pass along to her own students.

Ndassa told WSN she hoped that students could walk away with the knowledge that an education in STEM gives you transferable skills you could apply to multiple areas of your life.

“STEM is the fuel of tomorrow,” Ndassa said. “That’s the best way I can describe it.”

Ndassa elaborated on her passion for her field.

“I’m so thankful for the opportunity,” she said. “I had a ball, I love doing this. It’s very inspiring. I appreciate the questions from the students, but it also grounds me to remember where I come from because in my everyday life, it’s easy to forget the steps that led me to where I am today.”

Email Min Ji Kim at [email protected]