By Chrissy Herren


You might call Madelynne Grace Myers the total package.

Crowned Miss Kentucky USA on January 23, 2017, she combines beauty, achievement, and commitment. She returns this month to Vanderbilt University Medical Center as a clinical translational research coordinator. Her work will focus upon Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Graduating in May 2017 from Vanderbilt with a degree in molecular and cellular biology, her background includes extensive volunteer experiences at Vanderbilt’s Hospital trauma unit and medical mission work abroad. Volunteer work in Africa, Honduras, and Nicaragua impacted her decision to pursue a career in healthcare. While overseas, the work consisted not only of treating diseases such as malaria and yellow fever, but improving public health through building sanitation stations, eco-friendly stoves and instructing children on basics such as brushing teeth. She also instructed them on nutrition and cleanliness.

Serving as Miss Kentucky USA, her platform was to inspire young women to pursue careers in the STEM field. This platform led her from speaking at local high schools to lobbying our six congressmen in Washington DC to speaking at the United Nations. Madelynne spoke at the United Nations International Women’s and Girls Day of Science in February. Her presentation encouraged communities to develop or strengthen their STEM Programs (such as the successful Somerset, KY after-school model or science programs for those living in refugee camps) and to the importance of empowering young women to achieve their goals.

Ms. Myers has been invited to return to the United Nations. Upon this return visit, she hopes to share insights as to how each state could adopt a successful Women and Girl’s International Day in Science.  Her objective is to help communities with their work in STEM and share her insights as to ways in which successful programs can be maintained.

The doors of opportunity are opening wide for young women as they are free to choose their career path. At 23, Ms. Myers says her work has just begun. She is an inspiration to young women to seek and find their voice and seize the moment of opportunity that will fulfill not only their dreams but also the dreams of others. 

What is STEM?

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are four specific disciplines that many school children are taught independently. STEM advocates believe it is essential to approach these subjects as an integrated, cohesive learning paradigm. More importantly, they believe that students be taught STEM through real-world scenarios and applications.

Given that STEM careers comprise 20% of all US jobs–that’s 26 million–it’s important that our students start and finish their educations with a love of these subjects.

Why Focus on Young Women? 

Studies show that girls as early as age six start developing the idea that they’re not inherently good at math. Likewise, many young girls are given the idea that science and engineering are more appropriate for boys. That perception carries with girls as they go through their lives.

Studies show that girls do as well or outperform boys in STEM classwork, but do worse on tests. A 2015 study found that this discrepancy disappears when factoring in reported levels of self-confidence or anxiety towards mathematics–as girls held anxiety about doing math tests, they did worse.

According to the US Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration, even though they make up about half of the US workforce, women hold less than 29% of all STEM careers. This is significant because those careers offer higher earning potentials. College graduates with STEM majors earn on average $15,500 more than their non-STEM peers. STEM majors are also more likely to be employed and hold only one full-time job (rather than a part-time job or multiple jobs.)

Want to learn more about STEM?