Pride Month 2020: Celebrate Diversity in STEM

A colorful rainbow to celebrate Pride Month 2020 at Juni.

We’re proud to celebrate Pride Month!

At Juni Learning, we’re committed to empowering inclusivity and diversity in STEM, education, and our very own Juni community. As we take this month to recognize and celebrate all of our LGBTQ+ instructors, staff, and families, we’re proud to share a few stories from our instructors and HQ team members.

Maddie Van Beek

Maddie is a Senior Instructor at Juni Learning, and a rising junior at Middlebury College. She double majors in Computer Science and Film Studies, and also works on the executive board of her college radio station as Tech Director. She currently lives with her family in New York, but grew up abroad in Singapore — so she loves traveling, meeting new people, and trying all kinds of cuisines.

What does Pride mean to you?

Now more than ever, Pride allows me to reflect on our history as a community, honor the progress we’ve made, and look to the future. I feel empowered by all of the voices that came before mine in the fight for equality and by all of the voices speaking up now not only in support of LGBTQ identities, but also the intersecting identities within our family. For me personally, Pride is a celebration of who I am and who I love, but there is still work to do to ensure that every LGBTQ person can feel that same unabashed joy.

Caroline Reynolds

Caroline is a rising junior at Johns Hopkins University studying Computer Science with a minor in Psychology. When she’s not teaching Juni lessons, you can find her on the soccer field, listening to new music, or “experimenting” in the kitchen.

What does Pride mean to you?

To me, pride month is a time for celebration. It’s a time to celebrate the big wins for the LGBTQ+ community, such as the United States Supreme Court decision in June of 2015 to legalize gay marriage and how far we have come since the Stonewall Riots in June of 1969. But it is also a time to celebrate my personal growth, my self-acceptance, and how far I have come in recent years as a member of this community. It is a time to be proud of who I am.

What advice would you give your high school self?

If I could tell my high school self anything, it would be to be more confident! I am smart, I am capable, and I am hardworking. Being one of only five females in my thirty-plus person computer science classes, I often felt inferior to my male peers and questioned if I would ever be successful in the computer science field. Just like how my sexuality is not a disadvantage, neither is my gender. I can achieve any goal I put my mind to, and I’m proud to bring more diversity into this field.

Ryan Lemon

Ryan was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, and is currently living in San Diego, California! He graduated from the University of California, San Diego in 2019 with a B.S. in Mathematics - Computer Science and a minor in Music. He loves playing video games, singing, playing the piano, and his cat Meelo. He’s currently working with Juni Learning full-time as an Instructor Success Specialist!

What does Pride mean to you?

To put it simply, “pride” to me means to truly accept myself — and by this I mean everything. My achievements, my talents, my growth, but also my weaknesses, my mistakes, and my insecurities. It took me a long time to understand and accept who I am, and to be honest I’m still in the middle of that process. But I’ve learned that that’s okay! I’m still a work in progress, and I’m proud of that.

What advice would you give your high school self?

To stop comparing myself to other people, and to take things at my own pace. I’d also tell myself that it’s okay to be who I am, rather than trying to hide and erase parts of myself.

What have been some highlights in your college career?

During my third year, I was part of a musical production centered around Filipino-American culture, LGBTQ+, and mental health. My peers and I related to the story so much, and it was amazing to have the opportunity to creatively express all of that on stage. I met some of my closest friends, gained more confidence in myself, and got to pursue my other passions outside of math/computer science.

Do you have any advice for anyone that wants to pursue a major/career in math or computer science?

If possible, look up some online resources and try to get a head start! Research, practice, experiment, teach yourself — do anything you find interesting that would help jumpstart your college studies/career. I wish I did that when I was younger, so I could’ve had more time to decide if I really wanted to pursue a Math/Computer Science degree. It definitely would’ve helped me prepare for college classes too!

Thank you for celebrating Pride Month with Juni this year, and taking the time to read these personal stories by our Juni community! Find more features of Juni community instructors and students on our blog, or continue reading below.

Related Reading