Struggling with STEM? These 3 Stories Might Inspire You

Female studying

The future of the world is science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), STEM-related jobs could reach as many as 9 million by 2022.

Those in the STEM field are more likely to earn more even if they have only a bachelor’s degree. In 2017, the average income for STEM positions was almost $90,000. That’s almost twice the annual earnings of non-STEM employees.

And yet, not many American students end up pursuing the field, and Pew Research may have the answer. Its 2018 survey revealed that about 50% of young students avoid enrolling in STEM because it is way too hard.

While STEM isn’t for everyone, those who like to pursue it can receive supportive or supplemental education through services like a math, science, or chemistry tutor. They also get inspiration from some of these famous people who also received tutoring and mentorship:

1. Hellen Keller

Helen Keller wasn’t a scientist, but the foundation she established with George Kessler in 1915 helped provide access to medical care and devices for people who have vision loss. After all, who could better understand them than someone who knew the experience firsthand?

At a young age, Keller contracted a severe disease that left her both deaf and blind. Growing up, she learned to cope by creating hand signs and listening to sound vibrations. But she needed a better education.

Through Alexander Graham Bell, the famous inventor of the telephone, they found 20-year-old Anne Sullivan, who became Keller’s instructor.

Sullivan, who was also visually impaired, immediately taught Keller to spell and know the names of objects by signing the letters of the word on her palm. When she went to both specialist and regular schools, she further pushed herself to learn how to speak.

Keller learned not only how to use Braille but also do the Tadoma method. This involves touching the lips and throat of the speaker to know the words. This knowledge helped her immensely as she traveled around the world as a public speaker, among other roles, later in life.

2. Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great was a young 32-year-old king and general of Macedonia when he died, but his legacy survived for many more years even after his death. He was one of the formidable Greek commanders, having expanded the kingdom and, in turn, the Hellenistic culture in only 13 years.

Further, for the more-than-ten years in the battlefields, mounting campaigns, he never lost. Some attribute a part of his success to the teachings of his tutor, Aristotle.

students taking exam

Although Aristotle is more known as one of the pioneering Greek philosophers, he was also a STEM expert. He introduced the theory of universals and became one of the first to explain how the universe was created. Most of all, he was the first to attempt to classify animals into specific groups based on their behaviors and appearances.

Like Keller, Alexander the Great didn’t pursue science, and more likely, it was Aristotle’s partings on philosophy and logic that helped him greatly during his conquest.

However, his scientific knowledge might have allowed agriculture to flourish in Greece during his time. When he traveled, too, he brought along not only soldiers and commanders but also architects and scientists. These may suggest that scientific opinions also mattered to the then-king.

3. Temple Grandin

Dr. Temple Grandin is a faculty member in Colorado State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences. She is also an animal activist who advocates for the more humane treatment of livestock.

One of her most notable works involved analyzing cattle’s behavior, especially when they’re on the way to the slaughterhouse. Through observation and analysis, she learned that the animals are sensitive to many things, including shadows and clanking of chains.

But her road to success wasn’t easy. Dr. Grandin has autism, although, at the time the signs appeared, the scientific community didn’t have an official diagnosis for it.

Fortunately, her family could afford to send her to specialists and provide her with customized therapy. Her mother did everything to prevent her from being institutionalized.

Schooling was also hard for her as students bullied her because of her disability. She didn’t do well in school until she met Mr. Carlock, who became her science teacher.

In her article, Dr. Grandin shared how the teacher became her mentor, allowing her to explore his lab and socialize with people who shared similar interests with her. Her exposure and the teacher’s mentoring fueled her love for science.

Learning STEM is challenging, but the stories above may remind students, and even parents, that with a strong support system, one can learn—and even be the best in the field.


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