MFS Math Department Hosts Screening of Hidden Figures

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As a piece of advice for anyone interested in pursuing the STEM fields, MFS parent Michelle Nesevich said, “Act with integrity, work hard, find some mentors, and let your performance speak for your reputation, which it will.”

Nesevich will be a panelist for a special event hosted by the MFS Math department on Monday, November 20th. Aimed at bringing awareness to the STEM fields, the hit movie Hidden Figures will be screened in the auditorium for free, followed by a pizza dinner in the Dining Hall and a panel of women in the STEM fields.

Math Department Chair Katie LuBrant explained that the idea for the event came from a conversation between herself and Michael Omilian. “Mr. Omilian and I had both seen Hidden Figures last year,” she said. “We started talking about it and about how we wanted to raise more awareness.”

LuBrant first saw the movie in theaters last year with her two daughters, who were 9 and 12 at the time. “They had learned a lot about Jim Crow laws, and the Civil Rights Movement, and to see it in action was really powerful for them,” she explained.

The movie also had a lasting effect on LuBrant. After seeing the movie, she talked with her daughters about how these women didn’t wait for things to happen. “They made things happen in their lives to make sure that they were successful, and made sure they surrounded themselves with good and supportive people.”

Women in STEM club heard about the event, and reached out to the Math department with the desire to help out. “These are the topics we typically talk about in our club, and this would be the perfect way to open it up for everyone in the school,” club President Meghan Roberts told WordsWorth.

Women in STEM will sell concessions at the screening, and their profits will go towards STEM for Her. “[It’s] a STEM organization based in Washington D.C. who helps underprivileged girls to do any camps of sorts over the summer,” Roberts explained.

As the advisor of Women in STEM club, physics teacher Jen Mosher elaborated on the goal of the event for WordsWorth. “This was Katie LuBrant’s brainchild,” she explained. “She thought it would be really great to get a showing at school, and to get some people from the science fields to talk to us about what it’s like to be involved in science and engineering careers.”

As a woman in STEM herself, Mosher described her own sense of connection to the themes of the movie and that sad fact that gender still matters when entering a science career. Studying in the 90s and early 2000s, Mosher has first-hand experience with forms of discrimination.

“I was told that I was too pretty to be in the lab, I was mistaken for a secretary many times … I was called a ditz, I was told I couldn’t possibly be interested in the things I was interested in.” Mosher said.

The panel following the screening will be composed of various female leaders in the STEM fields. MFS parent Michelle Nesevich is one of the panelists. Whether studying at Rugters School of Engineering or working as an engineer at Lockheed Martin, Nesevich has always been a part of the minority when it comes to gender. “It’s just a matter of how much,” she said.

Nesevich also connected with the movie. For example, one of the main characters, Katherine, is both a brilliant mathematician and a working mom. With three kids, that is something Nesevich can relate to. In addition, she described having similar discriminatory experiences early in her career. “I do recall some instances … when I could sense a look of surprise on someone’s face when they realized I was the person in charge of a team or project, just like Katherine encounters when she is brought into her new group.”

Overall, the event aims to both bring awareness and facilitate discussion, while reflecting on the themes of Hidden Figures that still apply to our society today.

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