Introducing our first MLC Member Spotlight Blog: Dr. Michelle Ventura Ezeoke
At the MLC, one of our goals is to strengthen peer connectivity between our members and to foster an environment for industry idea-sharing. What better way to do both of these things than through a member spotlight blog?
Our first feature will be about member Michelle Ventura Ezeoke, Bio-Bus Program Manager, who has been with the MLC for 12 years. Below she’ll talk more about how her Latinx background inspired her to work hard for a STEM career and her favorite part about the MLC (spoiler alert: the annual conference!). We hope you enjoy getting to know your fellow coalition peers better and be sure to email us if you’d like to be featured.
About Michelle and the Bio-Bus Program:
My name is Dr. Michelle Ventura Ezeoke. I am the Bio-Bus Program Manager and have been with the program for the past 12 years. The Bio-Bus Program is made up of scientists, students, and educators at Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA) who are committed to building a learning community that serves all Georgians. The Bio-Bus Program provides hands-on activities and demonstrations designed to generate a sense of excitement about science. It is a science field trip which comes to you! We want to share the FUN we find in doing science with K-12 students and their families and teachers.
What inspired Michelle to pursue a STEM career:
Being a first-generation Latina and college graduate, I did not have teachers/professors that looked like me until I entered graduate school. Needless to say, there were a handful of mentors that enabled me to see myself in a STEM leadership position. I began volunteering with the Bio-Bus during my graduate program. I fell in love with the mission and vision of the program. Additionally, it allowed me to be a STEM near-peer mentor to K-12 students. When I had the opportunity to teach at a predominantly LatinX school and a student asked, “You do science?” or “You’re a scientist?” as if they could not believe that someone that looked like them was a scientist. It was in that moment I realized that I had to be the change that I wanted to see. So, I pursued a career in science education and the Mobile Laboratory Coalition (MLC) provided me with professional development opportunities to grow as a science educator.
Michelle’s favorite part of the MLC:
The MLC is a family for many of us, whether we have been a part of it for one year or 10 years. One of my favorite things about it is the annual meeting. The camaraderie that the MLC offers, especially noticeable at the conference, is quite unique. I also enjoy giving back to the MLC as a volunteer. Being part of the MLC Board of Directors has provided me the opportunity to be a part of the inner workings of the MLC.
Another favorite thing for me is the mentorship and leadership opportunities that the MLC provides. I think the coolest part of my job is being able to train a first-year undergraduate student and watch them grow into a STEM educator with dreams of creating their own mobile laboratory in the future. Similarly, we have examples of many MLC programs where graduate students that started off as volunteers or graduate research assistants have started their own mobile lab programs.
I hope that undergraduate and graduate students working for MLC member programs are inspired by collaborating with the STEM outreach programs and in turn can see themselves in these leadership roles. They have a support system in the MLC who is here to help them along the way!
Thank you, Michelle, for sharing more about your role and involvement in the MLC. To learn more about the MLC annual conference or how to get involved with the MLC board, drop us an email and a board member will reach out.