SPECIAL SPOTLIGHT: Juliette Holder | 2020 Lift & Be Uplifted Scholarship Recipient | Ponte Vedra High School
At a Lift & Be Uplifted Presentation given to the Miss PVHS 2020 Pageant contestants, I gave personalized Lift & Be Uplifted journals to each of the 25 girls competing. I encouraged them to utilize list-making to accomplish their goals, in addition to journaling learning experiences, and recording both small and big "wins". The scholarship was presented to the contestant who submitted the journal entry that embodies the the values of grit and perseverance that upholds the Lift & Be Uplifted mission to challenge bias that holds women back and to stand up for ourselves and others. The first annual Lift & Be Uplifted Scholarship Award was presented to Juliette Holder at the Miss PVHS 2020 Pageant on Saturday March 7, 2020.
Believe me when I say... She. Is. OUTSTANDING. Her responses to my questions not only reveal her intelligence, but her forward-thinking mindset, her maturity, and her intense ambition. She is an incredibly strong role-model for both her high school peers, and for girls who want to pursue a career in STEM! #TeamJuliette & #GIRLPOWER
Read more about Juliette's perspective in this post!
1. What is your earliest memory of when you felt marginalized for being a girl?
It was all the way back in elementary school when my teacher would only pick boys to do the “heavy lifting” chores, such as moving chairs and desks, and then only allow girls to partake in the dainty tasks, such as handing back papers. Although it may seem like a small event, these daily occurrences in the classroom have an impact on a young girl’s mindset, often in a negative way. The repetition of it instills the mindset of feeling, being viewed as, weak and helpless within a young girl.
2. Why did you decide to pursue a career in engineering? Did someone or something inspire you?
Science and math have always intrigued me. Science explains the world around us and the math we learn in school is mirrored in the natural world. When I was young, I attended a STEM conference for young girls where I was able to unleash an immense amount of creativity and discover how rewarding a career in STEM could be. Ever since that conference, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in engineering.
3. In your opinion, what is the best part about being a girl?
The surrounding community of support. I believe that girls have a unique innate connection to each other where we not only want ourselves to achieve, but we want our peers to as well. Every girl is passionate about something and pursues everything with an overwhelming amount of heart. Although as girls we are different in our own ways, at our cores we are relatively similar and want to support those around us.
4. What would you tell another girl who is told that she isn’t “built” for a certain task or role? What advice would you give that girl who is told “no”?
The advice I’d give her would be this: The people in the world that don’t believe in you and want to tear you down are part of your journey for a reason. People’s opinions can become more motivation to work harder and improve yourself. It is fuel that ignites the fire that will burn with you all your life. I would also tell her to have compassion for those people and be hopeful that whatever is tearing them down themselves gets better in their life. Oftentimes, people’s opinions of you are just a reflection of how they feel about themselves.
5. How do you feel we can best encourage girls to pursue careers in male-dominant fields such as management roles, science-based careers, engineering, etc.?
Strong role models and exposure to the STEM subjects are the best ways to encourage young girls to pursue careers in the male-dominated careers. As I mentioned, the reason I became interested in engineering was because of a STEM conference. I think if we expose more young girls to experiences like that, that could inspire them to take charge of their interests.
6. Who is your female role model?
Hands-down, Sylvia Earle. She was the former chief scientist of the NOAA and pioneered many deep-sea explorations. She is such an influence on my life since she took charge of her career goals regardless of what others said. She was the only girl on many ocean explorations and blew away the public world since she was both pretty and smart (an unbelievable combination according to the world). When I think of pursuing a career in a male-dominated field, I look up to Earle and aim to be as driven and confident as her.
7. Has anyone ever discouraged you from pursuing a career in engineering? How did you react?
Yes - When I was a sophomore in high-school I had the opportunity to attend a dance intensive and was able to meet the director. The director and I struck up a conversation, and then he asked me what I wanted to pursue when I was older. I told him that I was interested in the field of engineering. He was visibly shocked. His entire face was clouded in a haze of confusion, and he stumbled over his next sentences to me. While I felt awkward about his response, I responded by laughing it off. I learned to have compassion for that man because it is not his fault, it was just simply what he was taught culturally. That experience will stick with me throughout my life and push me to be a better version of myself.
8. What are your your future/long-term goals?
In the future, I aim to attend university and acquire a master’s degree in environmental engineering. I hope to spend my post-grad years traveling the world to third-world countries and implement an affordable and sustainable infrastructure that allows for clean water and effective sanitary programs. I would also want to inspire change within more developed countries by coming up with sustainable ways together as humanity we can reduce our carbon footprint.
9. What single word best describes you?
Reliable. A reliable person is someone you can always depend on and trust. I have the honor of being the captain of my track team, and through that experience, I have gained so many good leadership skills including being there for my teammates and being the teammate, they can count on. On top of pursuing track, I dance on my studio's competition team. Being an older girl on a team of over 60 girls I have learned to help the teachers out by taking on responsibilities. I think reliability is a great characteristic, and I aim to embody that quality throughout my life.
10. From your experiences in high school so far, what do you think holds girls back from succeeding the most?
The culture built around a woman’s success. Running track, I constantly hear, “You’re fast for a girl” and “I can do that faster than you” from my male teammates. I think that the culture that is instilled in men is that girls succeeding is taboo and that men shouldn’t get “chicked” or shown up by a girl. The stigma around successful girls is a tough one to eliminate but I have hope that every empowered woman will do everything to break that gender stereotype.