“Everyone is a scientist.”
Dr. Vivian Lee is a biology teacher at Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Benjamin O. Davis Aerospace and Maritime High School.
Did you have a mentor?
Yes. My mother was a medical technologist. I loved my mother, and I connected biology with her. She gave me my first microscope.
What advice do you have for kids exploring the world and discovering what they’re interested in?
Life is one big experiment. You make decisions, and check things out. But don’t lock yourself in. Make observations, and record the data, just like you do in an experiment. And you decide what you want to become. Be open, and willing to try. You don’t fail until you stop.
What does STEM mean to you?
Exploration. That’s what it is. Everybody is a scientist.
What would you have wanted to hear about the promise of STEM as a young person?
I was aware of what my mother did in the science world, but I don’t think school exposed me enough to all of the varieties of fields of study that existed. And I don’t think it was intentional. It’s just that in urban schools, in Black communities, knowledge is limited. They shared what they knew. But there are so many things out there you can do. Be open and learn from everybody.