Bringing My Whole Self: Stories about being yourself in science

The Story Collider

08-12-2023 • 27分

In this week’s episode, both of our storytellers strive to be their authentic selves in academia. Part 1: Raul Fernandez dreamed of going to university to study engineering. When he gets to Boston University, he feels unwelcome. Part 2: Cynthia Chapple was continually underestimated by her teachers and struggled with minimizing aspects of herself to be accepted. Dr. Raul Fernandez is a scholar-activist. As a Senior Lecturer at Boston University, he studies, writes, and teaches about inequities in education. As the Board Chair of Brookline for Racial Justice & Equity, he rallies his neighbors in the relentless pursuit of racial and economic justice. In the last few years alone, he researched and wrote a piece that helped topple a monument to white supremacy, created a film series that engaged thousands of participants in challenging dialogues, and trained thousands more in equitable policymaking at institutions in the US and abroad. Dr. Fernandez also served as a member of Brookline Select Board – the first Latinx person elected to that position. During his time there he created a working group to support public housing residents, a Racial Equity Advancement Fund, and a task force to reimagine public safety. He lives with his formidable partner Christina and their three kids in Brookline, and enjoys trips to "big park" and "tiny park" with his adorable toddler Maya. Cynthia Chapple is an innovative scientist, an advocate for black girls and women, and champion of equity. In keeping with this work, she is founder of Black Girls Do STEM, an organization offering exploration of STEM career pathways through hands-on engaging curriculum in the areas of Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to middle and high school black girls to expose them to career pathways and empower them to become STEM professionals. Cynthia looks for more ways in which she can act as a conduit exposing young black girls to STEM industries and a diversity, equity and inclusion voice within the STEM workforce space to create welcoming policies, practices and cultures for Black people and women to thrive. As a Black woman in STEM this work is deeply personal and Cynthia draws upon her lived experiences as a result of her intersectional identities to offer ideas and solutions that truly foster belonging and give the opportunity for people to show up as their authentic selves. As a founder she sets strategic focus, foundational policies, practices and culture around the program design and student experience for Black Girls Do STEM. Subsequently she has launched CC Black Lab a research and manufacturing company of cosmetic products with the first brand being produced being Black Velvet SPA. Cynthia received her Bachelor of Chemistry Degree from Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) and her Master of Science in Chemistry from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE). She subsequently spent five and a half years as a Research and Development Chemist in the manufacturing industry. She has been a member of both the American Chemical Society and the Society of Cosmetic Chemist for over 5 years combined. Cynthia’s superpower is leveraging her expertise and power to dream on behalf of Black liberation. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit