She has traveled as far away as China and as close to home as her high school to encourage students to explore the world of STEM or science, technology, engineering, and math. Walton High School’s Selina Nie recently spoke at a Girl Scouts luncheon in Atlanta about her personal STEM journey and her pursuit to spread STEM knowledge to students around the globe.
Before she was a member of the National Honor Society, and before she was a finalist for a Women in Technology award, or a winner of the Porsche Driving Force Award, Selina was a girl fascinated by the science of weather.
Selina credits her mother’s job at the Weather Channel for sparking her interest in STEM.
“I loved watching the storm chasers and the intensity of the disasters behind them,” Selina told the crowd at the Girl Scouts lunch. “I was fascinated by thunderstorms and hurricanes, and my interest in STEM grew from being part of the action during the late nights [with my mom at her office.]”
During an outreach event in rural South Georgia, Selina learned that not every girl has the same STEM opportunities as she does at Walton High School.
“One of the girls [at the outreach event] explained that her negative attitude [toward STEM] came from her brother’s comment, ‘STEM was only for guys,’” Selina recalled. “This young girl allowed that comment to influence her interests because she didn’t want to be called a ‘tomboy.’”
To increase awareness of STEM among middle school age girls, Selina raised funds to host a one-day workshop, GirlsFIRST Jr., at Walton High School for 70 girls from low-income families.
“The program continued to grow into the international stage, where I traveled to China and hosted three seminars with STEM tool kits,” the Girl Scouts ambassador added.
The Chinese robotics team that she helped went on to win the most prestigious award at their regional competition.
Despite all of her success promoting STEM and her leadership positions on her school’s robotics team, Selina wasn’t always able to confidently address a room full of strangers, let alone students in another country.
“Looking back, I appreciate the opportunity of being rejected by my school robotics team my freshmen year,” Selina revealed. “I had failed the interview and could hardly talk. I knew this was a setback, but it wasn’t for me. My enthusiasm in robotics led me to a Girl Scouts-sponsored FIRST Robotics Team. [I overcame my shyness] by the encouragement from these spontaneous girls and ladies.”
Selina credits the Girl Scouts for helping her improve her public speaking skills and connecting her passion with STEM.
“From presenting at the Girl Scouts STEM Expo, to speaking at the Girl Scouts fall robotics event, being on [a Girl Scouts sponsored FIRST Robotics Team] stretched my mind and exercised my muscle,” the Walton senior said during her speech at the luncheon. “The last four years in Girl Scouts have truly transformed me from a shy girl to a STEM advocate, ready to take on the world!”
As a result of her campaign to promote STEM, Selina won the Girl Scouts Gold Award, which represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouts. The Walton senior aspires to use technology to help people through innovative product design.
“I know now that I can be more effective in creating a lasting change for girls all over the world,” Selina declared.