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Meet Prapti Koirala: Development Committee Member and Previous SCFG Mentor and Participant

Updated: Apr 26

Prapti Koirala has been involved with Science Club for Girls since 2013 when she joined as a participant. Upon attending Wellesley College, she became an SCFG Mentor and after graduating, Prapti joined, and currently sits on, the Development Committee. Through her education and career in STEM, Prapti has been supported by numerous women-in-STEM mentors that greatly impacted her which is why she is dedicated to giving back through organizations like Science Clubs for Girls and other programs that empower young women.


We had the opportunity to ask Prapti questions about her path in STEM, passion for SCFG, and advice for young girls underrepresented in STEM.


Tell us more about your educational background.


I went to Cambridge Rindge and Latin for high school and then Wellesley College for my undergraduate studies where I received a Bachelors in Biology and Economics. 


In high school, the mentorship I received from my female chemistry and biology teachers were pivotal in shaping my early academic journey. They encouraged me to join the school’s science team and pursue a research opportunity at a lab at Harvard University. After joining the lab, I became acquainted with designing the research study and meticulously analyzing behaviors of the frogs I was researching. This experience made me feel like a true scientist making an impact, an experience that was instrumental in bolstering my academic confidence as a 17-year-old girl. These formative years were guided by my female mentors—which included teachers and the principal investigator at the lab—who recognized my potential and provided support throughout high school, during the college application process, and beyond. 


At Wellesley, I was fortunate to be alongside successful students and professors who focused on breaking down gender barriers in STEM education and helped create opportunities for each other to pursue a career in science. My academic and extracurricular experience at Wellesley was also crucial for me to understand that you don’t have to follow a single path in STEM. I realized that I was drawn to the application of science and communicating scientific ideas more than conducting the research itself or practicing medicine. With these experiences and newfound interests, I pursued a career in healthcare and life science consulting, where I helped biotech companies drive innovation and launch products. I currently work at a precision medicine start-up focused on delivering the best possible care for patients with Oncology.  


Tell us more about your time at SCFG. How has mentoring impacted your life? What drew you to being involved in the Development Committee.


I first joined Science Club for Girls back in 2013 as a program participant as part of the Mayors Summer Youth Program. Prior to joining SCFG, I was in a similar mentorship science program in middle school where I first found my passion for science and a community. I became part of this middle school program after moving from Nepal to the US. As I created baking soda volcanoes and water bottle rockets, I found comfort in crafting science experiments with peers who looked like me. This mentorship program fostered a sense of belonging and made science fun for me. So, when I heard about Science Club for Girls, I immediately signed up.

My involvement with SCFG was crucial for my confidence as a young woman in science. The program not only provided a community of diverse female peers and mentors, but also equipped me with skills to excel in STEM fields.  

When I went to Wellesley, I remained involved with Science Club for Girls as a mentor. I actively designed and taught curriculum to elementary and middle school girls at the Pine Manor site. Witnessing the excitement on the girls’ faces while crafting anatomical models from pasta and building a DNA model from gummy bears was truly rewarding. After college, I joined the Development Committee to give back to the program where I am now actively involved with fundraising discussions and planning the annual Catalyst Awards. I am committed to helping the program grow and make SCFG accessible to all young girls in the Cambridge and surrounding area interested in science. 


Now that you are a successful woman in STEM, if you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?


I would tell my younger self to continue to stay in touch with the many women mentors who supported me throughout high school, college, and beyond.

Earlier in life, I underestimated the value of maintaining relationships for a longer period–a lesson I’ve come to appreciate with time. Now, I try my best to cultivate a circle of peers and mentors who have made an impact in my life.

I came to this realization after my first job where I observed many men who have spheres of support systems and I wish I had recognized the value of relationship building and networking earlier in my life.  


In addition, I also wish I recognized the importance of vulnerability and seeking help from mentors. There were moments where I faced academic challenges or faced self-doubt and I hesitated to seek help from my mentors because I did not want to expose my weakness. I wish I could tell my younger self that it is normal to struggle and there is strength in reaching out for help. 


During your time at SCFG (either as a mentor, committee member, or general supporter), what has been your biggest takeaway or most memorable moment?


When mentoring second graders at the Pine Manor site, my fellow mentors and I asked each of the program participants to draw a scientist both at the start and finish of the program. Initially, most of the girls drew a scientist resembling Albert Einstein. However, by the end of the program, their picture evolved to reflect women and girls who had similar facial features as them. This shift in how they drew the scientist shows the profound impact that Science Club for Girls had in fostering self-assurance; they were able to envision themselves as scientists by the end of the program which is an essential aspect of the program’s mission. 


How do you envision the future of STEM?

Although the past decade has seen an increase in the number of young women entering STEM fields, there is still a gap in upper leadership positions for women in STEM. I envision a future where more diverse women, especially women of color, rise in leadership roles in academia, biopharmaceuticals, and other healthcare sectors. Programs like Science Club for Girls will be crucial for not only opening doors to scientific careers for girls but also providing mentorship that supports their development beyond the completion of the program.  


We are so glad to have Prapti in our Science Club for Girls community and for her willingness to share her story with us. Her dedication to pass on the knowledge and support to the next generation of scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians is truly inspiring—even to her younger sister who is a current SCFG participant! 

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