Doris Myers, founder and Executive Director of LESSAT, a not-for-profit organisation is our next STEM WOW.
LESSAT, an acronym for Liberians Encouraging Students in Science and Technology, was established in 2013.
Setup as a non-profit organisation, LESSAT came about when Myers realized women in her local community also longed for the opportunity to develop their potential: “LESSAT was born out of this realization.Myers said.
How it all Begun
According to Myers, LESSAT started with an event launch that was followed by a three days STEM Innovation Summit organized to entice students to pursue careers in the STEM field.
“We also created novel ways to help students in the communities identify their innate tendencies and true potential. The program has grown incredibly, which I feel is a testament to how much it was needed in the Liberian community. In the initial stages, I worked on LESSAT in my free time while I held a variety of other positions at startups”, she said.
“LESSAT has been self-funded for nearly 5 years. When I became its full time Executive Director, I quit other activities in order to dedicate my undivided attention to the organization.”
In the interview with Nsesa Foundation, Myers mentioned that her greatest achievement was how she excelled in her community development projects.
From 2014-2017, LESSAT developed a STEM INNOVATION Program that according to Myers reached 200 people per year. That Myers said could be broken down to 100 high school students, 50 teachers and college students.
On the challenges she has faced, Myers spoke of the lack of time and resources in running LESSAT and added, “I am learning as I go, and I am so grateful for our amazing volunteers, administrative assistants and incredible Board of Advisors.”
She also touched on the shortage of people, especially women in STEM.
“Overall, the shortage of professionals in STEM is a global issue. The number of women in STEM has been of particular concern as women are still grossly underrepresented, with the percentage of women graduates in STEM still below 20% in many countries especially Liberia and the number of women in the sector being much lower”, she continued.
Inspiring students to be STEM-focused teaches students how to think critically and how to solve real life problems – skills they can use throughout life to help them get through tough times and take advantage of opportunities whenever they appear. STEM Innovation is a way to a new Liberia and LEESAT is championing that.”
Concluding, Myers advised women to take charge of their education; be it through STEM peer support groups or by finding a mentor.
“Be confident; don’t be afraid to be assertive. Strategize for the future. Enjoy yourself. The secret to a successful career in STEM is to find something you are good at and like doing. Take your time in college, explore and find what suits you. You are genetically capable of studying subjects in STEM as well as your male counterparts.”
Myers is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering at the Stella Maris Polytechnic in Liberia.
About STEM WOW
STEM WOW is a project by Nsesa Foundation to tell the stories of young inspirational African women on the continent and in the diaspora who are rocking it in the field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).