EBONY Magazine Names PVAMU Senior Alexis Vanzandt HBCU STEM Queen
Posted By: Kennedy Williams on October 20, 2021 |
Senior biology major Alexis Vanzandt will represent Prairie View A&M University in the February 2022 issue of EBONY magazine as one of 10 finalists in the 2021-22 OLAY x EBONY HBCU STEM Queens online competition. The contest celebrates female science, technology, engineering, and mathematics students enrolled at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
As one of the ten finalists out of 62 contestants from 30 schools, Vanzandt will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Los Angeles for a complete professional makeover prior to a photoshoot with the other HBCU STEM Queens for a commemorative print magazine issue that will highlight women of color in STEM industries. She will also receive a scholarship and a summer internship.
“I was so shocked when I found out I won,” said Vanzandt. “I worked hard and started at the bottom with 39 votes. This was the first time I have done a competition of this magnitude. I am so appreciative to have been able to partake in this extraordinary competition.”
Started in 1975, the EBONY magazine HBCU Campus Queens Program has celebrated Black collegiate women who are destined to make a difference in their communities, as well as an impact in the world. This year, EBONY combined beauty, brains, and a bold future with a focus on STEM as qualifications for the competition.
“This recognition will allow me to become a pivotal role model for women and African-Americans in underserved and disadvantaged backgrounds,” said Vanzandt. “The competition has taught me the importance of confidence, self-awareness, resilience, and faith.”
OLAY, an American skincare brand owned by Procter & Gamble, partnered with EBONY to make the competition possible this year. OLAY began its #FacetheSTEMgap campaign in 2020 to promote gender equality within the STEM fields.
As a result of the campaign, OLAY has donated $500,000 to the United Negro College Fund in support of women in degree programs that will help them begin STEM careers.
OLAY kicked off the initiative with a $1 million commitment to support women in STEM. According to their website, for every Instagram and Twitter post through the end of October that contains #DecodeTheBias, OLAY will send one girl to Black Girls Code summer camp in 2022. Up to 1,200 girls will receive the honor.
OLAY’s goal is to double the number of women in STEM careers and triple the number of women of color in STEM by 2030. It is these efforts that have inspired women like Vanzandt to pursue STEM careers.
“Where I’m from, your highest accomplishment is considered graduating high school, and most are not expected to make it to college or be successful,” said the Dallas native. “This competition allows me to deter from societal standards and predetermined bias and prove that with hard work and resilience, the underdog can always come out on top.”
Vanzandt, who is set to graduate this December, said she plans to apply to medical school and continue researching cancer cell lines and antibiotic mutations, a path she began to pursue during internships with Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley. She said she is working to become a cardiothoracic surgeon.
“I have to shout out Dr. Harriette Howard-Lee Block in the Biology Department, who told me about this competition and helped me through it. Also, my research mentor, Dr. Gloria Regisford, who has allowed me to do conduct research, which is why I’m continuing it post-graduation,” Vanzandt said. “I also just want to tell all my undergrads never to take an opportunity lightly because you never know what the result could be. Open yourself up and be more optimistic!”
SOURCE: Kerry Laird, PVAMU
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