Emily Conn’s Letter to Her 13-year-old Self

Emily was a mentor at SCFG during her time as a student at MIT. In 2011, after graduating with a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering, she went searching for adventures in Germany and France. She recently finished an internship at Lego in Paris, and is looking forward to new adventures working at Google in London.


Emily C.- 13 yo picture

Never in your wildest dreams could you imagine what your future would hold. Let’s face it – science and math don’t seem to be your greatest interests. In middle school, you and your classmates dreaded the weekly double period of science, and remember how hurt you felt when you were unable to keep up with the accelerated math class and got pushed down to the standard level?

No big deal, though, right? You have other interests – foreign languages, creative writing, social studies. You may be the smallest girl in the grade, but you have the biggest smile and are always laughing. In the eighth-grade yearbook, your best friend wrote that you she imagined you would be a great first-grade teacher one day. Deep down, you wished she would have imagined you as something crazier – the first female president of America who trains as an astronaut, and then becomes the next J.K. Rowling by writing about her fantastical adventures on Jupiter.

Emily, nothing decided by a 13-year-old is set in stone. You may think that you’re not “good enough” to be in the accelerated math class, but as you grow older, you will realize that there is no shame in taking a class at a pace that suits you. You may secretly believe that your future holds wacky, unconventional adventures, but aloud, it just seems safer to say that you will be a teacher.

Keep an open mind. Try new things. The 13-year-old who hated double science periods might excel in her AP physics, chemistry and biology class. The 12-year-old who dropped down from the accelerated math class might win the Math Award in twelfth grade. Good teachers, good classes, and summer/after-school science programs might change your mind about science and math.

Like many girls, you have significant strengths outside of science and math – fantastic! Embrace your current interests, classes, and friends, but promise me, that even in the depths of 13-year-old wisdom, you will keep trying new things and be open to changing your mind.

As you will see later on, there is more to engineering than just science and math – an engineer that gets to travel to the world must excel in foreign languages, and an engineer that dreams of designing educational toys for girls must have an interest in teaching – you can’t imagine how your non-technical strengths will complement your engineering background in a truly unique way.

Keep opening doors of opportunity – try a new class, try a new school club, try a new sport, hang out with new people – but don’t think for a second that at 13, you are allowed to close doors.

Enjoy being 13!


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