Ross Vet Faculty Set to Mentor Young Women in STEM

Sep 08, 2020

Ross Vet faculty member, Dr. María José Navarrete Talloni has been selected to participate in the New York Academy of Sciences ‘1000 Girls 1000 Futures’ mentorship program. The one-year program will allow Dr. Navarrete Talloni to mentor and engage young girls from around the world who are interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and pursuing careers in STEM.

“ I said ‘yes’ to this opportunity because for a long time I’ve followed and studied the gap in STEM between men and women, boys and girls, and I want to do something about it. As a girl and as a woman, there are always stereotypes and discriminations. I was very fortunate to grow up in a family where I was allowed be what I wanted to be, and even encouraged to become a scientist all the way. I was treated equally; I had a choice and a voice. I’m privileged because my parents traveled with me to Africa, Europe and Asia just to show me different cultures, countries and people. I learned languages and I saw a world that I would love to share with other girls and women, because there is so much more that we can do. We need to share, to interconnect, and facilitate access to science to girls and women.”

Mentoring and empowering women is nothing new to Dr. Navarrete Talloni. While in her home country, Chile, she participated in different science outreach/mentoring programs, mainly focused on young adults and children. Later, as a professor, she mentored many veterinarian students in Chile during their final year projects, while participating in science outreach programs for children such as “Abramos nuestros laboratorios” (“Let’s open our labs”) aiming to develop scientific projects at the Vet School labs with primary school students.

For her, the love for mentoring came as a result of her own relationship with her mentors who have transformed her career because of their insights.

“I think two strong women marked me along my career: Dr. Leonor Moyano, (MD), anatomical pathologist at Universidad de Chile. She accepted me as an intern at their Residency Program for Anatomic Pathologist in the Medical School for 6 months… that was amazing! The program that they created for me was a chimera, because I was the 1st vet med student they ever had, but she was willing to try me, and it was worth it! For me, it was such a great opportunity to learn about pathology, but it was hard. They trained me and I was so fortunate to be with the very best human pathologists then. Dr. Moyano always had the time and the words to teach me, and to let me know that there were opportunities for everyone, and that I should always try to be the best, but a humble best. Dr. Linda Munson (DVM, DACVP, PhD), veterinary anatomical pathologist at UC Davis is also a notable mentor. She was the one that encouraged me to continue studying and to pursue a PhD. Dr. Munson was an outstanding veterinary pathologist, but also an incredible researcher and lecturer. She was very patient with me and she taught me many pathology tricks. She was humble but she was strong, and I really admired her. I was so lucky to have met her! Both showed me a way to do things, being responsible, honest, humble and strong.”

Dr. Navarrete Talloni is now being trained to pour into her mentors and the first thing she wants them to know: “there will be many “No” along this pathway, but there are always alternatives… always! “No” is an answer and a result. Keep trying and looking for the alternative answers, search for a possible positive result. Be grateful for those “No”, because there are always better alternatives and more creative answers awaiting.”

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