Merrill Keating

Mechanical Engineering/Artificial Intelligence Student-to-be, University of Washington-Seattle

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Don't be discouraged or afraid to fail because it's more about getting back up.

What do you do?

I am currently a high school sophomore but will be a freshman in college this Fall. I am an author, the founder of an UN-hosted club for girls in leadership, a FIRST Robotics team leader, an avid coder, and a passionate changemaker committed to a variety of initiatives towards mentoring and inspiring STEM literacy and innovation.

Why did you choose this field?

I've always been interested in and fascinated by STEM, especially math and science when I was very young. My parents were very active in both the applied and policy side of STEM so it was a regular topic of discussion, and I accompanied them to regional, statewide, and international meetings, speaking engagements, and conferences.

Several after-school and summer camps provided me with the opportunity to learn code, which I began as early as first grade. By the time I entered high school and joined the robotics team, I thought I'd choose the programming subteam. Instead, I was drawn to mechanics and the prospect of building a robot from the ground up. I joined the subteam and never looked back. My interest in artificial intelligence was sparked given the connection between robotics and data analysis.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I was always raised to believe that anything I wanted to achieve was possible. However, because of my introversion, I never thought I'd be so enmeshed in the youth leadership movement and starting a club, accepting public speaking opportunities in front of international groups, or founding and leading a TEDx event.

Why do you love working in STEM?

What I love is that STEM, leadership, and public policy don't have to be mutually exclusive. It isn't just about me being a geek in a lab, research facility, or corporate setting. I can create, inspire future generations, and advocate for change. Each day, I look forward to impacting lives and helping others. Building a legacy gives me purpose.

Best advice for next generation?

Don't be discouraged or afraid to fail because it's more about getting back up.

If you are the only girl in the room, that just means you're the first one and it's your turn to bring more along for the journey.

No matter how young you are, be confident in your ability to lead. Stand up for your right to be heard and trusted.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"Leaders instill in their people a hope for success and a belief in themselves. Positive leaders empower people to accomplish their goals.” -Unknown

NOMINATE a woman in STEM

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