February 24, 2015—Growing up in Houston, Texas, Maggie Hansen (C’16) always had a thing for logic. “I was that girl who got a 3,000 piece puzzle for Christmas and spent two weeks putting it together,” she remembers. “If you put me on a path to solve a problem, I’m not going to rest until that problem has been solved.”
That love of problem-solving is part of the reason Hansen is majoring in mathematics—but when she first came to Georgetown, she was on a different path.
Initially a chemistry major, Hansen switched to math in the fall of 2014. Having worked in Professor YuYe Tong’s lab for a year, she realized something important: a lab wasn’t where she saw herself over the course of a career.
“I love science, so it wasn’t that I disliked the subject,” Hansen explained. “Math is a way for me to get the same type of analytical skill set.”
But she hasn’t left science behind; now enrolled as chemistry minor, Hansen says that getting to know the department’s professors has been one of the highlights of her time at Georgetown thus far.
She also received a 2014-2015 Clare Boothe Luce Scholarship, the most significant source of private funding for women in STEM fields who are not pre-medical students. Luce scholarships are merit-based and support women with intellectual and professional pursuits in science, engineering, and math—fields in which women are typically underrepresented. The scholarship goes towards Hansen’s tuition, for which, she says, she is “incredibly grateful.”
Hansen now has a goal to make the science community stronger on the Hilltop—particularly for women. “It can be hard to find people who are like-minded, especially if you’re a woman in science,” she said. That’s why she's the director of marketing for Stemme, a new student-run organization that supports women in science, technology, engineering, and math. The group aims to foster a community of “women who love science” and provide career resources and networking opportunities.
Stemme also wants to focus on promoting a community for all women in the sciences—not just those who are pre-med.
“When I was a chemistry major, people would always say, ‘Are you pre-med? No? Well, what do you want to do with that?’,” Hansen explained. “We really want to get the word out that you can do a lot with science in addition to medicine.”
Stemme currently has 11 board members and more than 100 members, and interest continues to grow. Within the next year, the group hopes to complete the new club development process and secure Student Activities Commission funding. One of its areas of focus is connecting with alumni and providing opportunities for currents students to hear from those in STEM fields. “We’ve been looking at Hoya Gateway, and I think that’s going to be a great way to connect with people,” Hansen said.
Hansen splits her Stemme time with another new student organization, The Caravel, an on-campus newspaper with a focus on international affairs. As design editor and webmaster, she manages the organization’s website. These responsibilities feed into her other role on campus as a University Information Services (UIS) student employee with the web services team.
“If you look at chemistry and look at math, it’s a lot of figuring out how things work; I think that’s also why I love working in web services,” she said.
This summer, Hansen will continue to put her analytical mind to work in New Hampshire as an intern at Informulary, a healthcare start-up founded by two doctors from Dartmouth’s medical center. The organization provides information about the benefits, risks, and uncertainties of prescription drugs. Along with a handful of other interns, Hansen will assist with data analytics by extracting, assessing, and compiling information from a wide variety of publicly available, but rarely used, FDA documents on drug trials and potential drug side effects.
Although you’ll no longer find her working long hours in the lab, Hansen wouldn’t trade the experience and wishes more students had the chance to work with professors like Dr. Tong. “I’ve known people who want to get into research and don’t know how, whereas I just reached out and asked if I could get involved,” she explained. “But I think Georgetown is really revamping the sciences, and more people will be drawn here as a result.”
For her part, Hansen looks forward to helping Stemme grow into a full-fledged group before she graduates next year. The sense of community, she says, is inspiring.
“At our most recent general interest meaning, we were cracking these insanely nerdy science jokes and everyone was laughing,” she said, “and it was fantastic because I just wouldn’t be able to do that anywhere else.”
On the hunt for an internship? Maggie Hansen found hers through the Cawley Career Center's iNet membership, an internship listing shared by Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University, Northwestern, Rice, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, and Yale. Visit the Career Center's website for more information.