Interview with Jacqueline Means

Jacqueline

Jacqueline Means is a 16 year old Junior cadet at the Delaware Military Academy, where she maintains a GPA of 4.0. She is also the proud founder of the Wilmington Urban STEM Initiative, an organization dedicated to bringing science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, to the underprivileged girls of Wilmington. Jacqueline is certainly an advocate for STEM education and loves volunteering her time to engage the youth of Wilmington.  She was recently featured on the Steve Harvey show, where she was interviewed by Mr. Harvey himself, and spoke about why it is so important to show young girls how fun and exciting the world of STEM is. Jacqueline is also the State Titleholder for the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen pageant, and will represent Delaware on the national stage in Florida as Miss Delaware’s Outstanding Teen in July. 

1. What first led you to start your GIRLS Empowerment STEM program?

Jacqueline
making slime

The Wilmington Urban STEM Initiative (W.U.S.I.) is program I started that is dedicated to bringing STEM, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, to the underprivileged girls of Wilmington. Having STEM skills is necessary to thrive in the 21st century, making it imperative that today’s youth is capable and prepared to live in the inevitable STEM-forward future. My goal is to change the girls’ negative mindset about STEM, which I feel I have totally accomplished, because, from when they walk in to when they leave, they go from, “This stinks! We have to do science and math stuff!” to, “That was so fun! Science is actually really cool!”. Through my Girls Empowerment STEM Events, I’ve been able to positively impact over 350 young girls and counting. I am showing the girls that they can overcome negative stereotypes and dominate in STEM fields where we remain underrepresented. I started hosting my Girls Empowerment STEM Events over two years ago.  

2. Who are your mentors and role models and how do they guide you?

Dr. Alexa Canady (first American woman and the first black person to become a neurosurgeon), and Dr. Joan Coker (state-renowned ENT Doctor) for their dedication and passion for their fields, and the fact that they never let other people’s opinions or doubts hold them back. As black women in America, their odds of being successful in the STEM field were not high, but they defied those odds and changed their circumstances for the betterment of everyone. 

3. What would you say to others who are looking to make an impact on their communities the way you have?

Jacqueline
making elephant toothpaste

Go for it! Find a school or community center and just offer your time. Whether its teaching dancing, singing, or just picking up litter, the people of your community will appreciate you for that. 

4. You mentioned over 60% of children dropout of school in your city. Why do you think this is?

A lot of kids in my area only get one picture of what their future will look like, and it’s often a negative image. I think that is what discourages them from completing their education. That and the fact that many resources that are essential to learning are unavailable to them.  

5. What experiments do you feel the girls in your program love the most?

The girls’ favorite experiment is definitely Elephant Toothpaste! The experiment starts out very small, less than a cup of liquid, but then the girls and I add the catalyst, and BOOM! The mixture comes out in a super big, foamy stream! The reaction is instantaneous and really cool. I love watching the girls’ faces light up from ear to ear when they see something so awesome happen! 

6. Do you follow up with the girls who go through the program? Have they mentioned the impact you've made on their lives?

I do! I contact their parents via social media and ask for the girls’ opinion on my Girls Empowerment STEM Event. They say that they are so happy they were able to come, and they can’t wait for the next one! Hearing how grateful they are and listening to them talk about their favorite experiments shows me that I am having a real impact in their lives, and that they are no longer intimidated by STEM.  

7. You've recently won Miss Delaware Outstanding Teen and are going to compete for Miss America's Outstanding Teen in a pageant. First of all, congrats and we wish you the best of luck. How did you get involved with this organization and what would winning mean to you?

Jacqueline

Thank you so much! I got involved in the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Organization because of their emphasis on service. I had already been giving back through W.U.S.I. and I loved that the organization wanted all the participants to have a cause that they are passionate about and advocate for (Mine is, of course, STEM!). Winning would mean the absolute world to me! It would give me the opportunity to not only promote the MAOTeen’s national platform for the Children’s Miracle Network, but also promote STEM on a national level.  

8. What are your plans for the future?

My ultimate goal is to become a world-renowned neurosurgeon! To begin that journey, I will be attending college to obtain my Bachelor’s degree at either of my dream schools: University of Delaware or Princeton (hopefully on a full ride!), where I will study courses like microbiology, biochemistry, and human anatomy. After that, I will go to med school and continue on my path of becoming a world-class neurosurgeon!  I also see myself still doing whatever I can to encourage girls to get involved with STEM.  

Jacqueline Means Fun Facts

a. I love Anime (Japanese animation)

b. I am teaching myself how to speak Japanese

c. I love practicing sutures (surgical stitches)

On Varsity Cheer for the Delaware Military Academy
On Varsity Cheer for the Delaware Military Academy
Bravo Battalion Commanding Officer for 2019-2020 school year
Bravo Battalion Commanding Officer for 2019-2020 school year

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