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Spelman College Welcomes Congresswoman Nikema Williams and NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy to Discuss Increasing Diversity in STEM Share a Spelman College Press Release


ATLANTA (September 1, 2023) — On Thursday, August 31, Spelman College hosted Congresswoman Nikema Williams (GA-05), and NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy for a roundtable discussion to address increasing the number of Black women entering the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Joining Congresswoman Williams and NASA Deputy Administrator Melroy on the panel were: Spelman College Provost Pamela E. Scott-Johnson, Ph.D.; Spelman Student Winter Jones; Spelman faculty members Na’Taki Jelks, Ph.D.; and Fatemeh Shafiei, Ph.D.; and Spelman Alumna Kaiya Murphy, Just Energy Associate with Partnership for Southern Equity.

Spelman College Provost Pamela E. Scott-Johnson, Ph.D., said:
“This is about our ability to be deliberate in how we develop our students. This is a great opportunity for them to choose how they are going to change the world. We appreciate the partnership with Congresswoman Williams and with NASA, because this allows us to be excellent in the ways in which we’ve committed ourselves. Spelman can lead the way in making sure that there is an environmental justice equity lens related to climate science.”

Congresswoman Nikema Williams (GA-05) said:
“Diversity in STEM is the key to finding solutions to our most challenging disparities. Increasing the pipeline of Black women to high-paying STEM careers will also help us close the racial wealth gap. Today’s conversation with NASA and Spelman College to ensure we bring diverse lived experiences, perspectives and ideas to the STEM workforce.”

NASA Deputy General Administrator Pam Melroy said:
“At NASA, we explore for the benefit of all humanity, and that starts with protecting our home planet. People around the world are increasingly experiencing extreme weather conditions, and to take action, they need data to understand how Earth is changing. NASA has used the unique vantage point of space for decades to collect and analyze data. Our discussions today were a crucial step towards empowering them to make informed decisions to help combat the effects of climate change.”

Partnership for Southern Equity Just Energy Associate Kaiya Murphy said:
“HBCUs are more important than ever and need to be supported. Statistics around Black success specifically have HBCU graduates in the top percentiles in happiness and success. To be taught, exercised and held accountable by people that reflect your community, in my experience, provided more tangible reward than any amount of technical information.”

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About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Spelman is the country's leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The College’s status is confirmed by the U.S. News & World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 51 among all liberal arts colleges, No. 19 for undergraduate teaching, No. 5 for social mobility among liberal arts colleges, and No. 1 for the 16th year among historically Black colleges and universities. The Wall Street Journal has ranked the College No. 3, nationally, in terms of student satisfaction. Recent initiatives include a designation by the Department of Defense as a Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM, a Gender and Sexuality Studies Institute, the first endowed queer studies chair at an HBCU and a program to increase the number of Black women Ph.D.s in economics. New majors have been added, including documentary filmmaking and photography, and collaborations have been established with MIT’s Media Lab, the Broad Institute and the Army Research Lab for artificial intelligence and machine learning.


Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Rosalind Brewer, political leader Stacey Abrams, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna president Audrey Forbes Manley, actress and producer Latanya Richardson Jackson, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and authors Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones.

To learn more, please visit spelman.edu and @spelmancollege on social media.

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