On June 15, 2021 ASCEND participants across all three regions gathered together virtually for the first time. The meeting began with a discussion of the documentary Picture a Scientist, in which leading women scientists discuss the inequalities they’ve faced as they set out to create a new formula to make STEM open to all. Next, Dr. Katrina Hutchins (Dr. K) provided a keynote address reflecting on the theme of Year 1 “Voice Positioning” and guiding the group through a coaching exercise to practice using one’s voice authentically and uplifting the voice’s of others. A key priority of this meeting was to provide participants the opportunity to network with others in their discipline across regions, so each discipline spent time in breakout rooms together and with Dr. K to further practice voice positioning. During a closing keynote, Dr. K encouraged each member of the ASCEND community to share a voice affirmation. One participant shared the following affirmation:
“My voice matters, because I have not been alone in the challenges and obstacles I have faced, but sometimes I have felt like I was. Sharing my experiences and perspectives can let someone else know they are not alone.”
The meeting wrapped up with exciting updates including the announcement of the grant transitioning to John Carroll University and newly budgeted professional development funding opportunities in the form of mini-grants for both faculty and administrators. ASCEND participants will meet again in-person at the upcoming Fall Regional Meetings taking place this October 2021.