For 25 years Science Bound has been empowering students of color to excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. In 2000, Charles E. Stewart, Jr. (Meredith, North) became the first Science Bound graduate to earn a Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa State University. After receiving his agricultural biochemistry degree, Stewart went on to earn his Ph.D. in plant biology at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Now, Stewart is an associate scientist, researcher and facility manager for the Macromolecular X-ray Crystallography facility at ISU.
Throughout school Stewart had a desire to be involved in research and development. His most exciting moments in Science Bound were participating in hands-on science projects, going to weekly meetings and learning about STEM professions. He added that the meetings helped him stay focused on his academics.
“I like learning, I believe that life-long learning is an indispensable tool for everything … I just thought it was a way of opening my eyes to this whole world of opportunities that are out there,” said Stewart.
Stewart urges all students to advantage of any and all opportunities to be active and hands on with science, math and research. He believes that college is developing mind and person, and that some of that development is achieved outside of the classroom.
“There are a lot of things that you will learn by DOING science, math or research. You’re not going to learn everything from a textbook. …Experience will help you decide if you really want to go to graduate school,” said Stewart.
During development, Stewart stresses the importance of embracing curiosity and the world around them.
“Science Bound helped me develop a sense of curiosity, which fueled my passion for learning, which ultimately built a solid, well-rounded foundation in science,” Stewart said. “Work on developing and exploring curiosity about nature and the world around you. Learn to ask questions if you don’t know or don’t understand something. Be confident that you can learn anything that you set your mind to.”
“There are whole worlds of options for those in STEM-related careers,” said Stewart. “I would urge students to embrace the challenges and know that there are people here at ISU (students, staff and faculty) who want to help you succeed.”