From Imagined to In-Practice and Performed STEM Identities: Measuring the Impact of a Latina STEM Fellowship on the Educational Trajectories of Latina High School Students
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational camps and fellowships that specifically target underrepresented populations in STEM fields, such as Latinas, have become more common place across the United States. In this article, we analyze multimodal ways of representing, opportunities, and role-models present at these camps, which together assemble an environment that uplifts participants with greater knowledge about possible STEM educational/career pathways and develops within participants an identity as future STEM professionals. We place identity and the power of imagination front and center in our study and through a multimodal systemic functional linguistics approach (Przymus et al., 2020), we analyze the experience of six Latina high school students and document all meaning-making textual interactions that moved these Latina STEM Fellowship (LSF) participants from imagined to in- practice and performed STEM identities. Results indicate that participants are deeply aware of the stereotype threat and identity contingencies that face Latinas in STEM careers, but that interacting with other high school Latina peers and with accomplished Latina scientists at the LSF worked to counteract these challenges and discourses of deficit.