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Hispanic Heritage Month - Honoring a Heritage and Individual Success

October 10, 2012 - 9:59am

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Dr. Karina Edmonds, the Department's Technology Transfer Director, speaks with Joan Michelson of Green Connections Radio about women in STEM last July. This week she is receiving a Career Achievement Award from Women of Color Magazine.

Dr. Karina Edmonds, the Department's Technology Transfer Director, speaks with Joan Michelson of Green Connections Radio about women in STEM last July. This week she is receiving a Career Achievement Award from Women of Color Magazine.

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 - October 15, honoring the generations of Hispanics who have shaped and strengthened the fabric of our Nation. The tradition of observing Hispanic Heritage as a federal government and as a nation was started in 1968, under President Lyndon Johnson. Twenty-two years later it was expanded from a week of observance to a full month.

As President Obama proclaimed, "our Nation's story would not be possible without generations of Hispanics who have shaped and strengthened the fabric of our Union. They have enriched every aspect of our national identity with traditions that stretch across centuries and reflect the many ancestries that comprise the Hispanic community. This month, we celebrate this rich heritage and reflect on the invaluable contributions Hispanics have made to America."

Later this week I will be traveling to Dallas, Texas, to present an award to one of the many Hispanics who have helped shape and lead the Energy Department. Dr. Karina Edmonds, the Department's Technology Transfer Director, will be receiving a Career Achievement Award from Women of Color magazine. Dr. Edmonds, the youngest of six girls, was born in the Dominican Republic. Her family moved to the United States when she was only seven and a half years old, and she didn’t speak a word of English at the time.

Dr. Edmonds is being honored for her achievement throughout her career, as a mentor for other young girls in STEM fields, a researcher and inventor, a technology developer, and an innovator. In her position at the Energy Department, she  is responsible for working with the Department’s National Laboratories to accelerate the process of moving discoveries from the laboratory to the private sector, ensuring that America’s scientific leadership translate into new, high-paying jobs for America’s families.

Her success in energy fields came from an innate curiosity about the way the world works, a desire to excel, and years of hard work. From the first time she saw a plane and wondered how it flew, Dr. Edmonds was hooked on engineering and science. As she excelled at learning English in school she began to seek out science classes. When her advisor told her to pick something “easier”  and "more feminine" than engineering  for her college aspirations, Dr. Edmonds was even more determined to make engineering her career. She knew engineering companies would be hiring, but she also knew that she could make a difference in the demographics of this profession.

After Dr. Edmonds overcame the challenges of her childhood and the lack of support at her high school, she knew that she wanted to actively work to stop others from facing these roadblocks. Dr. Edmonds mentored elementary school children during a Saturday morning program while she was an undergraduate at the Universtiy of Rhode Island, creating hand-on experiments that would spark their interest in science.  She also served as a big Sister of Los Angeles for over ten years during her graduate studies, and beyond at Caltech. Dr. Edmonds continued on, starting SMArt (Science, Math and Art) Night at her local elementary school in Pasadena to expose elementary school children to math, science and art and show how fun they can be.

During Hispanic Heritage Month, we honor STEM leaders like Dr. Edmonds, and the generations of Hispanics who have contributed to the mission success of the Energy Department.

 

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