Empowering Latinas to Pursue
their Passions through STEM
By Kendra Prutton
Toxicology Ph.D. Student / Science Communicator
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
College What do you picture when you
think of a "scientist"? Not
just a white lab coat - WHO
do you picture wearing that white lab coat?
I will be the first to admit that I was surprised
when I first became immersed in the scientific
community - all shapes, all sizes, all genders, all
colors! Science is diverse, and not only the subject
matter, but the people researching it. Diverse
passions, hobbies, interests, cultures, creative
Kendra Prutton at University of Colorado
outlets, you name it! What we do have in common,
Anschutz Medical Campus. Spring 2019.
is the desire to not only contribute, but truly
dedicate our lives to something bigger than
ourselves - science!
As a child, I never once thought of science
or research as “what I wanted to do when I grow up”
- would this be different if I had been exposed to
science as a career or had an encounter with a
I choose to establish myself as a scientist in the
scientist that looked like me at a younger age?
community to show others that Latinas are capable.
I believe that the most powerful and effective means
Latinas are powerful. Latinas are influential.
of encouraging young Latinas to pursue and
Being present and proving myself as not a scientist,
succeed in STEM is to lead, represent, and prove.
but a Latina, adds value to the current and
44 www.latinastyle.com LATINAStyle Vol. 27, No. 3, 2021 future professional and academic environments
One community engagement that stands out in
my academic career, is when I volunteered to judge
the Denver District Public School Science Fair.
I believe that this experience exposed me, a Latina
and scientist, to hundreds of students who were
able to see me, my gender, my ethnicity, and
acknowledge my credits to judge their science fair
poster. Every child I interacted with, could see me,
my role in the science fair, and know that they too,
can become a scientist (if they want to), because
they were able to see with their own eyes what a
scientist looks like! Seeing is believing - I am proud
to tell people I am a research scientist and a
Latina - most of them are surprised. Why? I look like
We need to change the perception of who a
scientist is or isn't and truly advertise science as the
welcoming, inclusive, and accessible environment it
is! Sure, it will take getting comfortable being
uncomfortable, pushing past stereotypes, and hard
work to achieve success but when you get there –
you can look in the mirror and say, “I earned it”, and
lend your helping hand to those women and men
who are looking for a role model just like you!
Latinas are un-frameable. She is more than the
oversimplified image or idea of a Latina. I believe
that if we continue to bring our unique perspective,
honest work ethic, and earned achievements to the
table, we will never be refused a seat. LS
Kendra smiling in the lab, even under a
mask. Fall 2020.
Kendra always has a smile on while in the lab. Fall 2019.
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