Sophia Isabella Llanos Crowder

Student Ambassador for Higher Orbits and Founder of #ItGirls

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Always know your value, what you can bring to the table, and don’t let anyone talk you into believing otherwise.

What do you do?

As a Student Ambassador for Higher Orbits, I help promote the program to the next generation of future STEMists and Space Explorers. As the founder of #ItGirls, I helped create a girl-empowering initiative for girls who are in middle school through highschool to help foster their interest in pursuing non-traditional career pathways such as those in IT and STEM. It has also helped me create another local program for kids k-5th (STEMsquad) which aims to provide an early leveling field for boys and girls working on STEM projects together, fostering gender inclusivity.

Why did you choose this field?

As a student ambassador for Higher Orbits, I found that not many girls are involved in STEM-oriented programs, so that propelled me to be more visible so other girls can see someone that encourages them to take part in something that they too can take part of. With #ItGirls, I was inspired by my own STEM journey. As a middle schooler with a penchant for robotics and coding (and being the only girl in the team), I had to prove myself after I was told that I will not amount to anything merely because of my gender and that STEM has no place for someone like me. While that was supposed to discourage me, instead it motivated me to try harder and do better and reach out to empower other girls who are bullied out of believing in themselves and their potential. I founded #ItGirls to help redefine the value and misrepresentation of girls and women into empowered, smart, capable, and confident individuals in pursuing non-traditional career pathways.

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

Being only 15, I feel as though I have not yet reached the pinnacle of what I would consider “an achievement”, but seeing #ItGirls take off and seeing more girls like me realize their potential and having renewed confidence and drive in pursuing what is important to them definitely gives me that “anything is possible” feeling, especially when it is being recognized as a changemaking initiative and even helped earn me an award from the National Center of Women and Information Technology. And personally, despite being told girls have no place in STEM, being able
to win coding and robotics competitions (despite being the only girl in the team) and having a winning Science project bound for outer space, are truly defining moments.

Why do you love working in STEM?

Because STEM is in everything we do. And seeing more and more girls and women involved in making such significant strides over something which we don’t normally see much of, is empowering to me to be the best version of myself in whatever I do.

Best advice for next generation?

I would say that they should believe in their value and power to create change. So many girls and women are being talked out of believing in themselves and their dreams, not because they are not capable, but because they have the power to change the status quo. So always know your value, what you can bring to the table, and don’t let anyone talk you into believing otherwise.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

incepto ne desistam: “May I not lose sight of my purpose.”

NOMINATE a woman in STEM

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