Rolling Out

Jennifer Stimpson is making science cool

Stimpson was selected by NSBE as one of the “Hidden Figures of Dallas: Top Women of Color in STEM.” (Photo credit: Jason Janik)

Name: Jennifer C. Stimpson
Title: Educator, innovator, scientist.
Organization: The Hockaday School

Blending science, substance, and style, Jennifer Stimpson makes science a wonderful learning experience for students. Her love for science was fostered while growing up in a household with parents who were pharmacists. Stimpson and her younger sister (who is also a scientist), learned the impact science had on society. Stimpson was honored as one of rolling out’s Top 25 Women of Dallas and shared her factors to success.

What is your role?

I am a science teacher – chemistry and earth science.

What qualifications, education, skills prepared you for this job?

Interest, mentoring, exposure. My parents were my first science mentors. They taught me the importance of servant leadership thru science. Both of them were pharmacists, so I had a direct exposure to the field. It was as though I had “no other choice” but to become a scientist. So I majored in chemistry, completed graduate work in chemistry and spent time volunteering for various STEM programs.

What are the three most important factors of being a successful woman?

Dress like Olivia, own like Oprah, and slay like Bey! Just kidding. You must have grit, integrity, discipline. Success is based on a driven attitude, long nights, and mounds of failures. But you have integrity to persevere despite the multiple daily trials you face as you strive toward your dreams. Discipline is a lifestyle. You are disciplined for what matters to you, your exercise regimes, your food choices, your spending habits, and your sleep schedule.

How has technology changed the way you approach your work?

In order to keep up with the demands of student achievement, it is important to me to create better learners. My curriculum uses technology often. We are in the midst of robotics, so I am teaching technology to students showing them how to write programs for their devices to have movement and functionality.

Who or what motivates you and why?

New mornings. Simply put, I am an innovator, and each day is a new opportunity to create new dreams. My grandparents did not have the opportunity to graduate from HS. I am motivated to do well for the opportunities they never had. Also, I have a vivid memory of visiting a library, in search of books for my students. I was amazed that I could find no books about black girls or with pictures of black girls in their content or on their covers. That helped inspire me to use my influence as an African-American female scientist to show girls that science education is part of a global community to which they also belong. I’m motivated to do the work to provide the answer to the question: “Who will be responsible for teaching the next generation of black women scientists?”

Photo provided by Jennifer Stimpson

What advice do you wish to offer other women that are seeking a similar career path?

Historically, teachers have been women; we are compassionate, giving and nurturing. Exercise patience and engage students in doing their best are among the needed skills to be a great teacher.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be? Why?

I would remove all injustice. Until the laws of man line up with the laws of the Almighty, we will have challenges. Everyone seems to have “the answer” but no answers are correct. And the battles of “who is right” and “who is better” distracts from human decency and compassion.

Name a book/books that changed how you see life and you recommend to others?
1. A Better Question by Warren Berger. I really enjoyed this as it talks about how we communicate speaks volumes to how we are understood.
2. The Greatest Salesman in the World, by Og Mandingo is one of my favorites. This is full of mantras, advice and applicable principles for success.

If you could have theme music, what would it be?

Jay-Z’s “On to the Next One.”

Favorite quote?

Quote: “Chickens practice like it’s practice; eagles practice like it’s game time. Do what it takes, not what’s easiest. Be an eagle. Never a chicken.”

Notably, in November 2008, through an article in the renowned O: The Oprah Magazine, Stimpson was acknowledged as a “Rock Star Scientist.” According to Stimpson, “You can be Black, Hispanic, or Asian; you can wear Manolos and Prada. You can be … hip, dynamic and be a scientist.”

Stimpson self-designed a science program called “Get a ‘KIC’ out of Science” to advance the knowledge of education through innovation and science. KIC, which stands for “knowledge in chemistry” is a specialized science program designed to enhance STEM competency for K-12 students.

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