STEM Speaker Presentation Talks About Addressing Failure

Andrew Corliss, Reporter

The latest talk in Marshall’s STEM speaker series discusses the ways we can break the mold of pre-established, typical roles and boundaries in STEM on Monday.

Dr. Raven Baxter, an award- winning molecular scientist and educator, delivered a speech about her STEM journey since childhood.

The class clown in space camp, her interests shifted toward environmental science in high school. Baxter was accepted to SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in New York, but did not perform as well as she had hoped.

“I was gifted in that I could pick up things really fast, but I wasn’t a scholar,” Baxter said. “I didn’t know how to apply all these amazing things in my brain to pass a test, or even know how to advocate for myself as student. I had a lot of potential but ended up not doing well. In fact, I failed completely out of college.”

Soon after, Baxter gave it her all on a second subsequent enrollment in community college and afterwards went to pursue a four year degree. After finding her passion for biology, she graduated on the Dean’s List by learning how to properly apply herself and ask for help.

By working with a variety of demographics in her community college—such as military veterans, refugees and the elderly—it opened her eyes to the importance of diversity in STEM fields.

“Can you imagine dissecting frogs with someone from the military? We got straight ‘A’s,” Baxter said. “I learned so much from that man. He was very precise, methodical…and it was amazing. Before, I was in a class full of people who had the same exact experiences that I did… and nobody had anything new to contribute. I learned how to value conversations with those with different worldviews and what it means to talk about science with them. That is how I learned about the true nature of diversity. It’s way beyond skin-deep.”