Miss Black USA Talented Teen is crowning her successor this weekend, who will also receive a full-ride scholarship thanks to her efforts.
Means Is Empowering Young Girls In Underserved Communities
Jacqueline Means, also known as the “STEM Queen,” has spent the last year amplifying her efforts to serve the younger community.
Since the age of 12, she has exposed young girls in underserved communities throughout the state of Delaware to the world of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through her Wilmington Urban STEM Initiative.
Already 6,500 girls have been helped across schools and community centers through educational programs, hands-on experiments, and her Girls Empowerment STEM Events.
“STEM is a heavily white male-dominated field. I want to show these young girls, especially girls of color, that you can go into this field, make a difference, empower people to continue to go into the field, and increase the amount of women, especially women of color, in STEM,” Means told AfroTech.
Introduction To STEM Sparked Her Career Interests
At 19-years-old, Means is continuing her mission to diversify the STEM field, even as a student.
Her introduction at an early age has inspired her journey to become a pediatric neurosurgeon. She is currently pursuing a major in medical diagnostics on the pre-med track with a minor in neuroscience at the University of Delaware.
Means recognizes many young girls are not finding interest in the field, but she knows she can change this narrative by creating engaging opportunities similar to what she had growing up.
“I come from an underserved community that is riddled with gun violence. When I was growing up, my mom told me that I wasn’t allowed to play outside because she didn’t want me to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. So, something for me to do became STEM and it was my biggest passion because it was so much fun. It was a distraction from the negativity that was around me and it just made life better for me. I had so much fun doing little science experiments and doing hands-on things. And as I got older, I realized that other girls didn’t find it as interesting. So, it became my life’s mission to prove to them that STEM is fun and engaging and it’s also something that you yourself can do,” Means said.
Winner Will Receive Full Ride Scholarship To Delaware State University
Over the last year, Means has worked to bring the Wilmington Urban STEM Initiative to surrounding states, including Philadelphia, PA.
Now that she is approaching her adult years, she desires to create a pathway for the youth to find success. Therefore, using her influence as the reigning Miss Black USA Talented Teen, she created an academic opportunity for future winners of the pageant. Now, with the help of Delaware State University’s president, Tony Allen, the successor of the crown will receive a full-ride scholarship to the HBCU.
“It’s been an amazing year and such a blessing. I feel like I’ve accomplished a good bit with this title. Of course, continuing my efforts in STEM throughout community centers all across my state and reaching out to a couple of other states and their schools as well,” Means said. “Mainly, I am really proud of securing a full tuition scholarship for all subsequent winners of the Miss Black Teen USA. That kind of academic opportunity is just unprecedented. Education can truly open so many doors and I’m so glad that I was able to secure this opportunity for the future winners.”
She continued: “Money can often be a debilitating factor when it comes to trying to pursue higher education, so hopefully this scholarship will eliminate that need, that worry, and that obstacle for these girls to pursue a STEM degree or whatever degree they desire so they can leave a positive impact on the world.”