This Bowie student is passionate about STEM. Now, she’s part of a program aimed at getting more girls in the field

Akinfolarin, a senior at Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Springdale, in front of her project on the "endothelial Function in Atherosclerosis." (Courtesy Anike Akinfolarin)

Ever since she was in elementary school, Anike Akinfolarin has loved STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math and couldn’t get enough of it. So much so that last fall, she started a group called “STEM Sisters” aimed at sharing her passion for STEM with other girls like her.

Now, she’s part of a cohort that will help her do that.

Akinfolarin, a senior at Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Springdale, is Maryland’s representative with the STEM Next Opportunity Fund’s Million Girls Moonshot.

The “flight crew” has 51 reps — one from each state and the District — which help foster and encourage students like Akinfolarin to share their passion of the field with other girls.

The national initiative’s mission is to close the gap in women in STEM-focused roles and provide access to millions of young people who are interested in the field through after-school and summer programs with the goal of engaging one million more girls in STEM by 2025, according to their website.

“This allows the cohort of girls … to come together and basically talk about our passions for STEM and how we will change the community [with] the passions that we all have and how we will engage a million girls into STEM,” said Akinfolarin.

STEM Sisters, an online club she started in the fall, is her first step at doing just that.

“I wanted to incorporate my strength and inclusiveness back into my community, and also I wanted to build upon my mentorships skills,” said Akinfolarin. “So I wanted to found this club for girls entering into high school or already in high school and give them advice on how to find their STEM passions.”

“There’s not often STEM opportunities, especially for girls and people in underrepresented communities,” she added. “So I’m hoping to have a networking opportunity with different mentors or leaders that I meet within the Million Girls Moonshot program, and I’m hoping to gather information that I can use to actually incorporate STEM education into … Prince George’s County, Maryland,” she added.

Akinfolarin will graduate later this year and plans to study biotechnology in college, though she hasn’t finalized where she’ll attend. Eventually, she wants to work for Johnson & Johnson as well as the Department of Defense after graduating college.

“A Million Girls Moonshot was a great opportunity for me and I’m really hoping to actually make a change within my community and STEM Sisters,” she said. “Since I’m going into my freshman year of college, it may be hard to continue this program, but I do hope to continue this virtual program and actually extend this program within the community” where she ends up going to college.

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John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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