My STEM Story: Alyson Schafer

canada2067 | Youth |

I was raised in a house of academics. My mother was a teacher and my father worked at the University of Waterloo. Education was always a strong family value. Both my grandmothers had university degrees, which was rare for their generation. Even more rare in the 1920’s was that my grandmother’s degree was in chemistry.

As a child growing up, we heard stories of how my grandparents met on campus and how my grandfather was attracted to her intellect. They would have little quizzes to see who was smarter and my grandmother proved she could keep up with any man.

My grandparents spoiled us with amazing gifts and experiences; telescopes, microscopes, rocket making kits, binoculars, magnifying glasses etc… I am not sure what I loved more, studying my own hair shaft under a microscope, or my grandmother sitting beside me discussing with passion what I was observing.

While other girls were hosting slumber parties, I was turning my bedroom into a laboratory and growing molds that I would check daily and record in my journal. As I grew up, I kept my love of learning and got a degree in Science at the University of Waterloo. I never pursued a job in Kinesiology but I always knew that I had a scientific mind. It was part of my identity.

Science studies taught me critical thinking and gave me an understanding of the world that is called into use daily. When I read the newspaper, books or articles, I read them critically. When I am in the natural world I observe in a more fully attentive way. Working with people as a therapist and parenting expert, I need to know my social sciences. Neurobiology, the mind body connection, hormones, drug interactions – all require science.