Spotlight Series:
Chelsea Hong

What do you do?

“I was the president of Ada’s Team but this year I took a step back to focus on a certain portfolio, and the one that I'm passionate about is conferences”

Chelsea is a Computer Science student at the U of A and is also part of Ada’s Team. Ada’s Team promotes diversity in both STEM and Arts! On Campus, Ada’s Team offers tutoring services and workshops for technical and soft skills. Off campus, they send students to large conferences, free of charge! Chelsea used to be the president and this year has decided to focus on conferences. She is passionate about conferences and believes it is important to send students to these conferences. Additionally, she is also involved in preparing networking sessions, helping students learn how to pitch themselves, write good resumes and polish their interview skills.

What inspired you to do what you do now?

“What keeps me here is the people, because I met some really great people on Ada’s Team. They constantly make me want to keep trying and moving our community forward.”

Initially, Chelsea saw the inequalities and disliked how there were so little opportunities for minorities and other marginalized populations in STEM. Currently, Chelsea continues her pursuit of computer science and engineering because they both are an interest to her and she believes that “it’s possible for anyone and everyone to do great things.” Additionally, she has fantastic support from members of Ada’s Team.

What does diversity in STEM mean to you?

“It's not just about having a seat at the table, it's about having a voice, your own unique voice.”

Chelsea has learned from experience that people get hired because of being the “‘diversity inclusion’ person”. However, she believes that expecting minorities to act and talk “like everyone in the industry” is not actually promoting diversity and inclusion. It needs to include providing a unique and empowering voice to everyone.

What are some challenges you have faced linked to EDI (Equality, Diversity, Inclusion) in your experiences/work?

“Diversity inclusion isn’t just about the people who show up but also about the people who are scared to.”

The biggest challenge Chelsea has faced is expectation and having people take her seriously. Inclusion breeds innovation, but it is almost nebulous when it happens and many leave disappointed after meetings. She believes that diversity includes both the people who do and who are scared to show up to meetings. So, instead of being disappointed, she should be content with “speaking my truth and having a voice.”

What are some ways individuals like yourself can help increase EDI in STEM?

“Keep talking to people and reaching out as much as possible.”

Both joining organizations and performing the micro activities, such as checking up on friends and meeting new strangers, are ways Chelsea recommends to increase EDI in STEM. She believes that individuals interact in bubbles and rarely engage in conversations with people who have different backgrounds. In order to increase diversity and become awareness of this clique behaviour, she advocates for being empathetic.

Interviewers: Abhiroop Saha, Amirah Nazir, Hanna Kang (2020)Author: JuliAnn Thai (2021)