21 oktober 2021

Anna Schueth, German STEM Ambassador of the year 2021

-tekst alleen beschikbaar in het Engels-

This summer, none other than German Chancellor Angela Merkel presented the award lauditio for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Ambassador of the year 2021 (MINT Botschafter des Jahres 2021) to Dr. Anna Schueth, post-doc at the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience. Merkel pointed out that now more than ever the work of the STEM ambassadors is crucial for STEM education and future developments in science.

Paying it forward as a woman in STEM

“The roots of my passion for mentoring lie in my own time in high-school. My maths and physics teachers called me stupid, and the study/career adviser suggested in the last high-school year that university is nothing for me.” What her teachers didn’t see, were Schueth’s personal circumstances, like her mother’s suicide attempt and bipolar disorder, that caused her grades to drop. “My parents told me never to give up on my dream, and I didn’t. I applied to several universities, got in, and obtained my biology degree. Despite what my teachers told me”. This is what Schueth is now trying to convey to her mentees. “When a career in STEM is your dream: don’t give up. With dedication, motivation, and support, you’ll get there.

A crucial role

When embarking on an academic career, a mentor is crucial. “Throughout my career, I’ve had different mentor, and each gave me important academic and life advice at the moments I needed it most. One that immediately come to mind, is the German professor Hardeland from the University of Göttingen. He had a great impact on my life and career, probably without even knowing it. 10 years later, we are still in touch”. Another important mentor in my academic career was my post-doc supervisor Dr. Alard Roebroeck, who supported me throughout several sick and pregnancy leaves and during a period of grief, when I had lost a baby.

What does an academic look like?

An academic, a mentor, an ambassador for the sciences. All these titles conjure up a certain image. “But we take many forms. For over 10 years I have been covering up my tattoos for work occasions, when I must look “professional”. And I feel that in those moments I cannot be myself. But I get it. This is “luxury problem”. I wear a black suit and can change my outer appearance within a couple of minutes. I cannot imagine how people feel, who are discriminated, or experience hate because of skin colour, hair, religion and more. But I can and will continue to be an advocate for stigma awareness and stop covering up, who really am. The positive feedback for my awareness has been overwhelming and so positive. On a daily basis, people send me "thank you" messages for what I do and how I present myself."