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STEM Star of the Month: Stephanie Syl-Akinwale

Stephanie is a senior at Mount St. Mary Academy and Channel 2's Stem Star of the Month for September 2021.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Stephanie Syl-Akinwale, a senior at Mount St. Mary Academy in Kenmore, is the WGRZ STEM Star of the Month for September 2021. She’s humbly paving her own path through her interest in science and math, but notes that wasn't always the case, at least in her eyes.  

In an interview with Storm Team 2 Meteorologist Elyse Smith, Stephanie said, “To be honest, when I was little, I used to avoid science because I thought it was too hard or I never saw a lot of women in science. So I would always be like, “oh yeah, let me just leave that to my brother."

One reason why Stephanie is originally from Nigeria. Lagos to be exact, with her family moving to the United States only a few years ago. And while moving halfway around the world could be a major hindrance, it seems to be just the opposite for Stephanie. She credits that transition, in part, for her current interest in STEM and recent success.  

This past summer, Stephanie has the opportunity to participate in the Buffalo Health Care Exploration Program at Roswell Park. "I explored many things I had no clue about before like robotics surgery, laparoscopy, I met with some surgeons and doctors and teachers. I had one mentor that was in medical school and they were telling us about the experience and hard work you have to put in," says Stephanie. 

Hard work and a natural curiosity for not only science but several subjects. Don Oliver is a Math teacher and STEAM Coordinator at Mount St. Mary Academy, and has this to say about his student, “She’s extremely intelligent, very curious when it comes to Math and likes to see how the numbers work, how they work together and has developed a lot of confidence in herself mathematically so much she’s taking two courses her senior year.” 

And her advice for young girls who have an interest in these predominantly male STEM fields...

“I would say don’t look at the statistics. You should really try it if you like it. And even if you may not initially be good at it, just put your best forward and try it and you might end up loving it as I do. I think a lot of people growing up would benefit from knowing that there are people looking like them and are like them in STEM fields succeeding and enjoying what they do.”  

After graduating from high school in the spring, Stephanie plans on attending college and majoring in engineering. That way, she hopes to get on a pre-med track to one day become a surgeon. 

If you know of a student who excels in science, technology, engineering, or math-related fields, nominate them to be the next STEM Star here.