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It’s Time for You to Become STEM-tacular

By: Lucas Pakele


The time is now to become what you were intended to be: extraordinary. It is the most human of conceits that we feel destined to be something greater. Mathematicians and physicists have uncovered secrets at scales smaller than atoms and larger than the universe. Chemists are making materials that seem to defy the laws of nature.

You don’t need to look further than Fox 2000’s new movie Hidden Figures to know why they do these things. Not for fame or glory or wealth, but to satisfy their insatiable drive to be better. World-spanning empires have been created, conquered and toppled all to satisfy this drive people feel to push beyond the perceived limits of our abilities and prove to ourselves that we are truly unlimited. The mathematicians, chemists and engineers only wanted one thing in the race to space. They wanted to watch a rocket soar high into the heavens, only to touch down lightly in the ocean with its human cargo safely stowed. Known as Project Mercury, it was the first time an American was put into orbit.

Taraji Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe have moved millions of people around the world for shining light on the underrepresented brilliance of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson who put astronauts into space. We take for granted our ability to pursue space exploration: not always remembering that the mathematical foundations upon which our cosmic pursuits rest were innovated by these extraordinary human beings and their teams.

I’ll say it again: they are extraordinary. Despite obstacles, misperceptions and downright obstruction they conquered humankind itself to enlighten America and the world to the unrestricted possibility of our people. We’ve directly sampled the chemical composition of Martian rocks. We’ve landed probes on tiny moons zipping around colossal celestial planets. We’ve even extended our reach beyond the confines of our tiny solar system and begun exploring the vastness of space between the stars. We can do this because three incredible humans (among others) refused to accept those things that others would think could limit them. All they needed was chalk, board, hydrogen and oxygen. Without proof or prestige, for it had yet to be done, they ran their calculations and ignited their test fuels.

We are not limited. No matter what anyone tells you, what you see in the world around or what you may feel deep inside, you are not limited. You are Katherine Johnson, whether you realize it or not. You are Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson. The drive, passion and capacity for incredible acts that empowered them to put humankind on the moon have always been inside you too. It’s not a special talent granted only to a few or a privilege only shared with a certain class. No. It is a constant current of electricity cascading through your brain and nervous system. It is the constant release of chemicals that makes you, you. There is no special secret to greatness, there is only the self-chosen purpose to pursue it.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. These fields of study have propelled the greatest changes in humankind and the world we live in. They’ve built cities that scrape the sky and burrowed tunnels within Earth. They’ve landed us all over the heavens and taken pictures of molecules that move like they were alive. We’ve questioned the fabric of our reality and our place in the world all because quirky humans thought they might accomplish the impossible.

Nevada, our home, is a place for innovators and free thinkers. It is a place that has cast away the notions of what a state should be or what a citizen should do. It is as wild as the west and as bright as the sun that shines reliably on our soil. You could make nuclear fusion a reality or create an app that changes the behavior of our kind. You could create a global company that changes how capital can make our world a better place. You can do these things because you are human, the only kind on Earth that ever could.

If you’re ready to explore the diverse career opportunities available in STEM fields then click here or visit one of Nevada’s many higher education institutions:

College of Southern Nevada / Desert Research Institute / Great Basin College

Nevada State College / Truckee Meadows Community College

University of Nevada, Las Vegas / University of Nevada, Reno

Western Nevada College