Celebrating MSU Students, Faculty, and Alumnae for Women's History Month

March 31, 2021 - Asia Siev

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 This image has been designed using resources from Freepik.com

 

This March, the Honors College featured a range of women alumni, students, and faculty as a part of Women’s History Month. We’ve compiled their stories, their experiences, their joys and hardships. 


Dr. Chelsey Spriggs 

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Dr. Chelsey Spriggs is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Michigan, where she is studying how polyomavirus enters cells through cellular motor proteins. Spriggs graduated from MSU in 2010 with a degree in Microbiology. She graduated from Northwestern University with a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology in 2017.

As a black woman navigating a STEM field, Spriggs says that, "Finding support systems in science and out of science is so important. We all struggle in different ways and realizing that your support can come from people that you wouldn't expect is so important. My biggest piece of advice is to put together a support system, no matter how that looks because you're going to need to lean on that." 



Carly Watson 

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Carly Watson is the Director of Debate for MSU Debate Team. She spent a year as an assistant debate coach at Gonzaga University before returning to MSU as the Debate Team Project and Events Coordinator. 

Watson discussed the struggles women in debate face, “A lot of things that are coded as being a successful debater, being aggressive, being able to defend and advocate for your positions, being competitive, being a leader, are coded differently for men than they are for women. There is a lot of stigma attached to being a competitive debater if you’re a woman. All of the things that are appreciated in male competitors are discouraged or looked down upon for non-male debaters.” 

However, MSU Debate is working hard to fight against these harmful stereotypes. “We’ve put a big emphasis on having gender parity in our recruiting. We’ve always focused on making the team as supportive as possible and being a space where people can feel comfortable talking about these issues,” Watson said. Stay tuned for more #WomensHistoryMonth Features this month! 




Gabby Kelsch-Bledsoe 

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Gabby Kelsch-Bledsoe is majoring in Computer Science Engineering. She is president of Women in Computing, which works to recruit, support, and retain women in computing-related fields.

Kelsch-Bledsoe reflected on the need for diversity in engineering, "The hardest thing is being the only one who looks like you and thinks like you. It's kind of a Catch-22 because we need people who think differently, especially in engineering. We can't keep facing the world's problems with the same thought process. We need that diversity of background and thought, but it's also hard being that one voice in the room."

 

Kelli Weigold 

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Kelli Weigold is a junior majoring in Chemical Engineering and Spanish. Last summer, she did a research experience for undergraduates at MSU where she worked on carbon fiber reclamation. She is a part of the Society of Women Engineers and it is one of her favorite parts of MSU. "Everyone in SWE is super supportive of each other and willing to offer insight or mentorship."

Weigold offers sage advice for girls thinking about going into Chemical Engineering, "No matter what you may have heard or think, Chemical Engineering is for you. If you have that problem solving, analytical mindset this is for you. Try out every opportunity that comes your way."



Vanessa Johnson (B.A. '08)

VanessaAfter graduating from MSU with a degree in Psychology, Johnson worked for Teach for America in Philadelphia. As she realized teaching in the classroom was not her true passion, she transitioned to jobs that combined her experience of education with her interest in technology. Eventually, Johnson returned to Teach for America as a staff member. There, she was able to implement data sciences into equity and inclusion, analytics, and general research, development, and innovation.
With the onset of the pandemic, Johnson said she, “realized that I wanted to explore this more technical arena.” She applied and was accepted to the Data Science for All Fellowship, through Correlation One. The program aims to train underrepresented minorities in skills in tech. As Johnson transitioned into a STEM field, she realized that, “It’s hard for everyone in their own way at different times.” Her most important piece of advice for someone looking to transition into a STEM field was to, “start putting those doubts aside and thinking about the relationship between effort and outcome. What happens if I put in a little more effort or even a lot more? I think embracing that growth mindset is really important.”

Heidi Theisen 

heidiHeidi Theisen is a senior majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Computer Science. She is currently the chair of two K-8th grade STEM outreach activities for the Society of Women Engineers. After graduation, she hopes to pursue her masters in aerospace engineering. She will continue to do internship rotations with NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. For Theisen, the Society of Women Engineers was one of the most valuable experiences she had at MSU. “The community of the Society of Women Engineers has made the biggest difference in feeling included in my major and supported in the field of engineering. My mindset has always been one of knowing your own worth. I know I bring value to the table.”

 

Winnie Kamindo 

Winnie Kamindo is a junior studying Neuroscience. She is vice president of Mental Illness Awareness MSU, a support group where students talk about their mental health with peers. Kamindo discussed her experiences as a black woman in STEM. “Being a black woman in STEM is always something I have to think about. I’m usually the only black person in all of my classes. I’ve experienced times where teachers underestimate what I can do compared to other students,” she says. “When that happens, I just have to remind myself that I’m here to prove people wrong. I’m here to show people that what I can do doesn’t fit any stereotypes.” To learn more about MIA, visit their Instagram.