A tribute to Angela Mathew

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…” –Henry David Thoreau

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We are saddened and shocked by the news of the death of Angela Mathew in a tragic car accident in early February. Angela had been a passionate Science Club for Girls mentor scientist since her freshman year, and became the president of the SCFG Harvard Campus Chapter this past fall.

Angela’s life may have been abbreviated, but she lived it deeply and deliberately. She moved to Massachusetts from New Mexico, to study neuroscience at Harvard, with the goal of becoming a physician. And she came to Science Club for Girls to “learn how I, as a female resident of Cambridge, can positively affect the lives of the girls that I mentor, as well as bring new change and energy to the local community via outreach and education”.

Angela (r) with co-director of the SCFG Harvard Campus Chapter, Liz Dunkel

Angela (r) with co-director of the SCFG Harvard Campus Chapter, Liz Dunkel

Angela was “frustrated” by the inherent sexism and gender stereotypes around science, where “excellence in STEM related fields has been attributed to male students and professors”, while women’s remarkable accomplishments and contributions are “often overlooked.”

She knew that “encouraging young girls at an early age to love science, be curious, and take chances is the first step to making this stereotype obsolete”.

Angela certainly did not practice resignation. She was aware of her gifts and took action.

“I have been given a unique opportunity to make a positive change in people’s lives, with community and public service, fundraising, mentoring, and more…”. The Science Club for Girls family has been blessed to have had Angela share her passion and her being with us.

“Angela was the most amazing, energetic and inspiring woman”, said Karen, one of the parents. “She had such a positive impact on Allison and Christina. They adored her and loved having her as their mentor”. All of us who have had the fortune of meeting and working with her cannot agree more.

Angela’s joyfulness and enthusiasm were contagious not only for the young ones, but for her peers. Her leadership was epitomized by the apparently small act of organizing and energizing the group of busy Harvard students from different concentrations, houses, and years, to walk as a group from Harvard Yard to the Amigos School each week, where they led K-5 programs. Angela built community because she took note of individuals. She lit up every room she walked into.

The chapter members, and the rest of us, will carry on the spirit of Angela’s wish, which, apart from her professional aspirations, was to make an impact in a “financially poor region”, working with “young women, educating them, encouraging them, and giving them the drive to succeed in any and all aspects of their lives, not in spite of being a woman, but because of being a woman”.

Angela had clearly fulfilled her wish. Thank you, Angela, for your gifts. We miss you.

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