Cool Girls with Tag: science

Claire Koster

Sock It to Me Cool Girl Clair Koster HeadshotName: Claire Koster
Age: 18
Location: St. Louis, MO
Occupation: Student, STEM Instructor, Teaching Assistant, Volunteer

At only 18 years old, Claire Koster already has made an impact on her community, running the Women’s Advocacy Group at her high-school, volunteering at a homeless outreach center, assisting in a STEM program, studying to become an educator, and speaking out for those who confront societal challenges.

Her empathy and compassion are what spurred her to apply action to her emotion.

“When you see that there are obstacles keeping people from joy or security or happiness, those obstacles become yours, too, in certain ways. I have a younger brother with Down Syndrome who is the most fantastic human I have ever met in my life, and once I was old enough to understand that he would have a harder time living the life he desired than I may have, it made me want to understand what causes those sorts of obstacles and how they can be solved. That totally snowballed into caring deeply about the ways other forms of identity cause one to be marginalized,” she explains.

Sock It to Me Cool Girl Clair Koster with her brother standing in front of a river.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Claire took over running the Women’s Advocacy Group at her conservative, Catholic, all-female high-school after the founder graduated.

Trees with text: "Love has the kind of power cynicism only wishes it had." -Bob Goff“There were certain topics that pertain intensely to gender equality but we weren’t able to talk about as openly as we would have liked to because they did not align politically with Catholic values. That was certainly frustrating, but meant that we chose to take our conversations in a direction of opening a dialogue about gender and equality in a way that felt accessible to everyone. It was exciting to see how willing people were to enter into that dialogue,” she says.

Beyond her education and in-school advocacy, Claire also volunteered her services at the Marian STEM Club, an enrichment activity that was offered as part of their curriculum.

“Marian Middle School has an extended-day, extended-year model, so from 4:00-5:30 each day the students choose an enrichment to participate in. Each Thursday, we would come and do STEM activities with about 12 students,” she says. “It has been such a joy to get to grow in community with the students and learn with and from them.”

Text image: "The nonevent is the best part of life."Outside of school and supplemental activities, Claire also spends time at the St. Patrick’s Center, a homeless outreach organization, where she volunteers during their Women’s Nights, where they make, serve, and eat dinner with the women seeking shelter and assistance.

As she prepares for college, Claire looks forward to becoming a teacher herself.

“I’m currently majoring in secondary teaching, and I will study either sociology or english, or maybe both! I have been so incredibly impacted by teachers who have supported me and seen me as someone more capable than I saw myself. That sounds trite, but is such a deeply impactful thing. I can’t think of a better way to spend my life than to seek to do that for others.”

What wisdom does this brilliant young lady have for other young girls who, like her, are growing up and trying to do the best they can with what they were given?

Sock It to Me Cool Girl Clair Koster with her brother, close up.“I think that as we get older, we discover things about ourselves that prevent us from “fitting in” with the people around us. We’ve been told that, one day, these things will be our superpowers. But they certainly aren’t yet, or at least they don’t feel that way. My best advice is to learn to sit with those things. You don’t have to love them, you don’t have to show them off or build a life around them, but try your best not to push them down and away from you, because one day, you and I will both realize that they are superpowers, and we will want them back.”

For her maturity, poise, benevolence, and grace, we think Claire Koster is an incredible human being and one super Cool Girl!

A $200 donation was made to Marian Middle School on behalf of Claire. You can donate here.

Deborah Berebichez

Name: Deborah Berebichez
Age: Early Thirties…
Location: New York City
Occupation: Physicist

“I would love to become a female role model for those girls who love science but somehow feel trapped, like they can’t achieve their dreams,” Dr. Debbie Berebichez says. “Much like “Bill Nye, the Science Guy,” I want to be “the Science Gal,” to inspire teenagers and adults to look at science with a fresh and fun new eye.”

Dr. Berebichez has become a prominent female voice in both physics and scientific leadership, even though she found little encouragement for her love of science and math from her family and peers while growing up in Mexico City. Although she would spend hours looking at the stars on the roof of her building, and she’d ardently read biographies about scientists, she didn’t have much external support when it came to her budding thirst for knowledge. She attributes this to a conservative community that strictly adhered to gender roles as they understood them, where girls were told they “shouldn’t pursue a career in science.” Although she dreamed of becoming an astronaut or a rocket mechanic, she instead focused on theater and writing, opting to treat her love of left-brain learning as a childhood phase. It was when she was a Philosophy major at Brandeis University that her scientific swooning reemerged, and today she is a professional physicist and risk analyst on Wall Street.

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Amy Freitag

Name: Amy Freitag
Age: 23
Location: Beaufort, NC
Occupation: PhD student in marine science and conservation

Amy Freitag grew up the daughter of a nuclear physicist in Washington DC. Being around her scientist dad inspired her, and led her to have an adoration of science fairs. Throughout her childhood she changed her mind about her dream career often, but whether it was to be an endocrinologist or a restoration ecologist, it always stayed grounded in science.

Today Amy is a PhD student in marine science and conservation at Duke University. At this point in her career she considers marine biology a “midpoint stop.” She works at a marine lab and interacts with people who have riveting jobs that enlighten and motivate her. “I work with colleagues in environmental justice that have field sites in the coal towns of Appalachia, inner city Baltimore, and the strawberry fields of the San Joaquin Valley. I consider myself a political ecologist, which largely questions community access to – and power over – natural resources they depend on,” she says. “The frame of analysis is ubiquitous across cultures, ecosystems, and time. That’s what has really won my love.” She also finds the idea of incorporating academia into her future appealing, as she believes it can help her to simultaneously spread knowledge about the environment while helping communities to preserve their resources.

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