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Meet Audrey Lee from 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures

Meet Audrey Lee from 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures

Oct. 19, 2016

Audrey Lee is currently a first year undergraduate student at Columbia University’s School of Engineering but last year she joined the inaugural class of 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures. The Academy started the program in 2015 as part of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action. It seeks to empower young women through STEM-based education. The 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures program is modeled as a 1:1 mentorship opportunity in which young women ages 13-19 are paired with female STEM professionals working across the globe. Through this unique opportunity, each girl is matched with a mentor who shares similar research interests and together, they design a curriculum that works for them.

While in the program, Lee worked closely with her mentor, Dr. Insiya Fidai, who was at the time a PhD student at The Ohio State University. Under Fidai’s tutelage, Lee showed great promise as an aspiring engineer and worked on several projects involving robotic prosthetic hands and implantable medical devices.

Most recently, Lee was invited to speak at the 2016 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting about her experience in the program and the project she developed. We recently caught up with Lee to discuss what her experience was like at the CGI, with 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures, and what’s next for her.

Tell us a bit about your experience with 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures.

The 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures program was the first time I was able to connect with STEM-driven peers and mentors from around the world. Being able to collaborate with such a diverse community has opened my mind and helped me grow as a mentee and STEM student. Through the modules and discussions, I gained valuable skills in communication, leadership, and critical thinking and I learned how to apply those skills to give back to my community.

What is your relationship to science?

I've always had an affinity for building. As a little girl, I loved creating Lego structures and watching my father repair things around the house. I didn't know exactly what career I would be interested in pursuing until I participated in GOALS for Girls Summer Intensive at the Intrepid Museum and learned about technology and engineering. Later on with the help of the 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures community, I was able to grow my passion and plan my academic path in engineering. Since then, I have been making personal engineering projects, conducting laboratory research, and taking engineering related courses to develop and practice the skills I have learned.

What was it like presenting your project at the 2016 Clinton Foundation Global Initiative Conference?

The advice that my mentor shared with me on research presentations and how to navigate a conference helped me develop my public speaking and networking skills. I became much more comfortable and confident in speaking before a large audience and was able to build professional networks with engineers who are conducting cutting-edge research in their fields.

How has your participation in 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures impacted other aspects of your life?

1000 Girls, 1000 Futures has given me peer and professional role models who empower and inspire my own work in STEM. I draw so much motivation from these people who have innovative ideas and solutions to global challenges. Having such a vast network of friends around the world in such a tight-knit community reminds me that I am not alone in my STEM pursuits. We support one another as we work towards tomorrow, together.

What role did your mentor play in helping you prepare for college?

My mentor has played a key role throughout my college application process. From preparing me for interviews to helping me choose a college and major, she has supported me every step of the way. While I was preparing my college applications, my mentor was going through a similar process as she applied for a job. Even though we were at different stages in our careers, we were able to relate to each other's experiences, cheer each other on, and celebrate together.

Would you like to mentor someone in the future?

My mentor inspires me in so many ways as a woman in STEM and as a person. I look up to her resilience, passion, and diligence in everything she does. I hope to someday be that inspirational and relatable role model to my mentees in the future.

What’s next for you?

I am currently pursuing my passion for STEM as an engineering student at Columbia University. I am exploring new passions and learning skills from the various organizations and opportunities both inside and outside of school. I plan to continue conducting engineering research and working with the 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures community as a mentee and peer mentor to help inspire the next generation of STEM leaders.