Kaitlyn, 19 – FUNDED

As a female who loves science and math, Kaitlyn Oliver hasn’t always fit the traditional “mold” — and sometimes that has been difficult. But, this Paliwal Club of 100 grant winner is ultimately thankful she has the opportunity to be different, and she hopes she can inspire others to be different, too. She is currently fully expressing her love of science and math at the J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, where she’s working on her Science – Mathematics A.S. Then, she will transfer to another school to pursue her Physics B.S.

What is your professional dream?

I have a passion for math and science as well as education. My goal is to continue conducting research professionally while teaching at the collegiate level. I’m excited to see where my interests take me as I narrow my focus in my field.

What does being in the Paliwal Club mean to you?

Being in the Paliwal Club is a reminder of the limitless potential of girls in STEAM. To me, it means my education is worth pursuing and my mind is worth cultivating. The Paliwal Foundation acknowledges that and supports my academic growth.

Women are underrepresented in STEAM. How can we change this?

We can increase the presence of women in STEAM fields by creating programs that give women access to higher education and encourage women to pursue their interests and talents in STEAM as careers. There are so many negative stereotypes that deter women from pursing STEAM majors; often, we’re discouraged and told there is no way to succeed in these male-dominated fields. Programs like the Paliwal Club of 100 allow women in STEAM to see a pathway toward their future.

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?

I’ve had to overcome many challenges as a girl who likes science. In middle school, I was teased for wanting to join Science Olympiad because it didn’t seem like “something I’d be good at” and I never took the opportunity to represent my high school in the science fair because I didn’t want to look “weird.” As I’ve matured and allowed myself to embrace my passions, I’ve realized that to break down barriers, I have to be comfortable looking “strange.” I have to get used to standing out because I am creating change.

How will this grant from the 1,000 Dreams Fund help you reach your goals?

This grant will help me fund my education by paying for textbooks and supplies this semester. I will also use this award to further my research in emerging nuclear technology.