Tokiwa Smith – Chemical Engineer & STEM Educator

A STEM Professional Turned STEM Educator

tokiwa

3.) What obstacles have you had to overcome in your career journey? One of the major obstacles that I’ve had is finding a mentor for my career path. I’ve overcome that obstacle by finding a multitude of mentors that provide me with counsel me with the various things that I face in my career and help me to become a better professional. The second obstacle that I’ve had to overcome as a social entrepreneur includes finding the resources and the right people to help achieve the mission of my organization and to keep going when I want to give up. As a social entrepreneur that owns a nonprofit organization there are folks that align with you that don’t always have the best intentions and/or inspire of their best intentions don’t honor the commitments that they make to you and your organization. One of the things that I’ve learned when running my nonprofit organization is do what I can with what the resources that I have at the moment. I’ve also learned to remove the box and remain open, when it comes to where I obtain my resources. The resources you need can come from anyone at anytime.  As far as people, I’ve learned to celebrate the folks whose intentions are good and honor their commitments to the organization and let go of those that don’t. At the end of the day in order to get the resources that I need to achieve the mission of my organization, I have to listen to actions and not words of individuals.

1.) What is your chosen STEM field? I’m a chemical engineer that has transitioned to a career as a STEM educator and social entrepreneur.

2.) Why did you choose this field? I chose to get a degree in chemical engineering because my favorite STEM discipline is chemistry and I’m very good at math. I wanted to have a career in a field that combine my love for chemistry with my aptitude for math. My career as a STEM educator was kind of chosen for me, after transitioning from chemical engineering I got a job at a college assisting with a program that helped STEM majors at community college to help them transition to undergraduate institutions to complete their bachelors degree. Since that very first job in STEM education, I have developed and managed STEM education programs at academic institutions, non-profit organizations and government agencies. In my career I have also started a nonprofit organization, Science, Engineering and Mathematics Link Inc.  I’ve spent my career using my background as a chemical engineer to inspire, teach and train future STEM professionals.

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