Jacqueline Means//Photo by Luigi Ciuffetelli
Science, technology, engineering and mathematics are subjects that still intimidate many girls. Means, a 10th-grader at Delaware Military Academy, hopes to change that, especially for girls of color. Known as @stemqueende on Instagram, she recently started a girls’ empowerment program that emphasizes STEM education and anti-bullying strategies. Her busy schedule also includes cheerleading and serving as a cadet in the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.
When did your interest in science start?
I loved science ever since I was 9 or 10 years old. I have always been interested in chemical reactions.
Is there a type of science you like best?
Neuroscience. I love that there is so much to discover, and that there is still so much that we do not know.
Why do you think more men than women pursue careers in science?
I think from a young age, girls are shown that they don’t belong in STEM fields. It’s just society in general.
Talk about your Girls Empowerment STEM program.
I held my first event on Aug. 15 in Wilmington and another event on Nov. 5. I volunteer at Neighborhood House (a local charity that provides informational programs that impact low- to moderate-income families), and I promoted the program on social media. It’s for girls ages 7 to 13, and we have multiple science experiments, anti-bullying talks and different motivational speakers, including Dr. Joan Coker, Enid Wallace-Simms and Erin Hutt. The goal is to host similar events every four months.
What kinds of experiments do you perform?
We make ice cream using dry ice, create a non-Newtonian fluid and even make elephant toothpaste.
Why is it important to have motivational speakers at your event?
As women of color, they didn’t let anything hold them back. I want girls—specifically girls of color—to see that STEM is an option for them.
What are your plans after high school?
I want to be a neurosurgeon and get my Ph.D. I also want to give back.
We interviewed your brother, Johnny Means, back in 2016. What has he been up to lately?
He’s a freshman at the University of Delaware. He was a big part of me learning to play chess.
Talk about The Wilmington Urban Chess Initiative that the two of you started.
It was mostly his thing. It’s a nonprofit we started in 2015 that teaches kids to play chess and the benefits of playing.
When you aren’t starting your own nonprofits or volunteering, what else are you doing in your free time?
I’m a cadet at Delaware Military Academy where I’m also assistant platoon leader. I’m on the marksmanship team, I’m a cheerleader, I run track, and I’m a member of model UN and an honor roll student. Oh, and I love Japanese culture (anime). I’m teaching myself how to speak Japanese.
Is there a woman in the STEM field that you currently admire?
Yes. Dr. Terri Quinn Gray (a global integration leader) at DuPont.