With hard work and dedication, imposter syndrome can never affect you because you are aligned to the work of purpose spiritually and professionally.
Who is Teressa Alexander?
I see myself as a science adventurer within the realms of earth science and earth observation using plants as a model for refining our current knowledge on plant function under climate change.
Research scholar fellowship at Harvard University
Induction into the National Physics honors society
How did you choose to pursue this field?
I think this field chose me. I had no idea this would have been something I would find a vocation in.
Who was your inspiration or role model that guided you to this field?
Prof. Noel Michel Holbrook has inspired me to work in this field. Her tenacity and prowess in this field was quite infectious while studying under her and my potential to bring more interesting perspectives to the field was formulated through her.
Did you always have the desire to work in this field? If not, what was your intended field? Why did you change careers?
My intended field was strictly aviation; however, my first love is astronautics. Aviation is seen as an applied science and in order to navigate different aspects of flight and space exploration, a degree in a pure science within STEM was required. I wouldn’t say I’ve changed careers, but have a strong desire to find a workspace that incorporates all of my aspirations and I’ve found this in becoming a scientist.
What do you love most about your job?
I love working in the natural environment/outdoors and my job allows me to do this quite often.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your job or career?
Being able to share my passions and mentor other aspiring young scientists has been most rewarding.
What things would you change about your job?
Nothing so far!
What has been the most difficult or disappointing aspect of your job?
At times the data I collected in the field may not turn out as expected when analyzed which can bring on some disappointments. Alternatively, these disappointments can turn into some new and exciting investigations as well.
How have you combated the stigma of being a “woman of color” in STEM?
All of my research experiences as an undergrad and the post baccalaureate studies have been in lab environments where I was the only black woman. Feelings of whether or not I belonged there have entered my mind several times, however, I knew I worked hard to get there and more than deserved a seat at the table.
What tips would you offer for anyone thinking about entering into your profession?
You must be fond of the outdoors! As I’m currently working in a tropical climate, the heat and the number of diverse animals and insects are high and will require you to be open to encountering a few of these creepy crawlers and slithering reptiles. It is a beautiful experience for any nature lover!
What advice would you give your younger self about your career journey as a “woman of color” working in a predominantly white, male-dominated field?
With hard work and dedication, imposter syndrome can never affect you because you are aligned to work of purpose spiritually and professionally.
Can you provide some words of wisdom to young ladies thinking about entering a STEM field as a career choice?
It’s ok to not know exactly where you fit in STEM right away. Do the STEM pathway research, network with people within your interests, and seek out internship opportunities to get the practical experiences to assist you during your period of discernment in STEM.
What is your favorite Quote? How do you apply this to your life?
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” I simply attempt all things I desire and feel called to pursue.
What are your future goals related to your career?
Becoming a NASA scientist monitoring coastal vegetation in order to conserve, educate and improve coastal resilience is my future goal.
How has your family influenced your journey and provide support?
My mother is an avid plant lover and was an educator for many years. I believe these qualities have rubbed off on me and she has been my biggest supporter throughout my academic career.
What are some interesting facts about yourself that you would like to share?
I love art and am a creative myself in abstract art and fashion.
Contact Teressa Alexander for any further questions:
@teressamelca on Instagram and Teressa Melca on Facebook.
We hope you enjoyed learning about our latest “STEMsation”, please comment about how her experiences have inspired you, how your experiences can inspire others and nominate our next “STEMsation to spotlight their amazing accomplishments.