Presented by SAGA
The Sexuality and Gender Acceptance Association (SAGA) hosted an LGBTQ+ in STEM and Industry Career Panel Wednesday morning, October 31, 2018, on the campus of Dakota County Technical College. Three panelists from the LGBTQ+ community, Seven Bailey, a welding instructor at Dunwoody College of Technology, Torri Jordan, a second-year student at the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and Mohamed Yakub, a science outreach and education coordinator at the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, took part in a discussion with DCTC students, staff and faculty.
“The panelists talked about their experiences in their various STEM and industry fields,” said Natalie Shrestha, an enrollment advisor and financial aid specialist at the college who also serves as staff advisor for SAGA. “The purpose of the panel was to give insights on how members of the LGBTQ+ community can have successful STEM careers.”
Natalie added that SAGA was started to create a community on the DCTC campus for anyone who identifies as LGBTQQIAA+.
“SAGA provides support and promotes acceptance at DCTC,” she said. “All persons are welcome to participate. Our mission is bringing all people of all identities together to create an environment of inclusion and friendship.”
More about the panelists…
Denise “Seven” Bailey has more than 15 years of experience in welding and metal fabrication. Seven is a certified welding inspector with the American Welding Society (AWS) and co-owner of INDUSTRYelle custom fabrication.
As creative and inquisitive as she is efficient and precise, Seven has fabricated everything from custom-art installations to high-volume shop orders to top-secret projects for NASA. She has held the roles of manager and production planner, showing that she’s just as proficient working without a torch in her hand.
Seven specializes in GTAW and SMAW, but excels in many of the arc welding processes. Her life’s philosophy is love what you do. She is a welding instructor at Dunwoody College of Technology with a reputation on campus for being professional and extremely personable.
As acting senior instructor, Seven has developed a successful new curriculum for the program and she’s mentoring new instructors on its implementation. For the past six months, she has been splitting her time in Atlanta, Georgia, as the lead welding fabricator for Nimbus, a 45-foot, 20,000-pound sculpture, which will be installed fall 2018 in front of the Central Library in Minneapolis.
“Being visible in my profession is my own form of activism,” Seven said. “I feel like I’m doing my part to help marginalized people find their way in the uncharted territory of STEM careers. Nothing’s going to stop me from doing what I do. The reality is we help many people just by living our truth.”
Torri L Jordan (they/them) is a second-year immunology student at the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. They are currently working in the Protein Misfolding Lab of Marina Ramirez-Alvarado, PhD. Torri’s work in the lab “focuses on light chain amyloidosis, a deadly disease characterized by the deposition of monoclonal immunoglobulin light chains as amyloid fibrils, potentially destroying the heart, kidneys, liver or other organs.” ¹
Torri graduated from University of Minnesota Morris (UMM) with their B.A. in Biology. They excelled as a goalkeeper on the UMM Cougars women’s soccer team. During their junior year, they recorded eight wins, four shutouts and 108 saves, including one 14-save game versus UW-Stout. In addition to their graduate studies, they work in LGBTQ science advocacy and science communication.
“One thing I want to bring to the panel is how I’ve had a lot of mentors in my life,” Torri said. “You’re not alone. Just keep frigging doing it. You are getting somewhere. We’re real—we exist. By being out there and loud about it, we are helping other queer folk. We are helping move STEM fields forward every day.”
Mohamed Yakub is the science outreach and education coordinator at the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS). Mohamed is queer (cisgendered gay male, person of color) and loves chatting with students. He completed his Ph.D. in Plant Biological Sciences at the U of M’s College of Biological Sciences—and he is passionate about engaging communities with STEM.
Mohamed is responsible for all outreach and education initiatives for the SBC. His work connects researchers and their science with the community and educators by developing and sustaining relationships with teachers and community members and bringing them to campus, as well as bringing the science out to their spaces, and making it accessible. In addition Mohamed creates interdisciplinary teaching and engagement opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.
Recently, Mohamed submitted a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to fund a program designed to offer community college students across Minnesota the opportunity to complete eight weeks of hands-on, paid research at the U of M. He’ll find out if his NSF grant submission was selected in February 2019.
“Who I am is a very important aspect of my work,” Mohamed said. “We need to be more visible and speak more about who we are as scientists, especially the different values and perspectives we bring to the science itself. Who we are defines how we work.”
LGBTQ+ in STEM and Industry Career Panel gallery
View more event photos by visiting:
LGBTQ+ in STEM and Industry Career Panel on Flickr.
Learn more about SAGA at DCTC by contacting:
Enrollment Advisor & Financial Aid Specialist
SAGA Staff Advisor
¹ Courtesy of Protein Misfolding: Marina Ramirez-Alvarado