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By: Bradley Downer
Twenty- four-year-old Joylyn Anita Conway, hailing from the East Berbice – Corentyne region is breaking the stereotypes in STEM by educating and empowering girls.
Joylyn serves in various capacities, hoping that her life would inspire young girls to break barriers and take up male dominated careers.
She holds an associate and bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from the University of Guyana Tain Campus. She recently graduated from the University of Guyana, with a postgraduate degree in higher education, where she made the dean’s list.
Conway was also the recipient of a Digital skills scholarship from the Avasant Foundation.
Joylyn is a lecturer at the New Amsterdam Technical Institute (NATI), where she teaches the Mathematics and Chemistry courses, as well as being a tutor at the University of Guyana.
In serving her community, Joylyn joined Rotaract, a non-governmental organization. There she served as the president for 2019-2020 and was recently elected as the community service director serving for the period 2022/23.
Passion for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Joylyn is a fearless champion for girls in Science,Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). She is well known, for her work in STEM, as that was her platform during the Miss World Competition in 2019.
She served as Guyana’s representative for the Miss World competition in 2019.
She founded the STEM Girls Glow Initiative, where she teaches science principles. With her initiative Conway also encourages and empowers girls to take up careers in male-dominated fields.
The STEM Girls Glow is Conway’s brainchild and also was used as her Beauty With A Purpose (BWAP) project, its campaign transited for four weeks. It consisted of hosting three series of day camps within rural communities, outreach at school’s deemed “low” and visits to orphanages.
Its main aim was to broaden the perceptions of “growth mindset” rather than a “fixed mindset” about who can contribute to STEM. This initiative showed a variety of STEM applications, which can be considered for personal and community growth, whilst highlighting positive female role models, who are either STEM enthusiasts or advocates for STEM education.
Joylyn said, “The STEM Girls Glow initiative is based on my life story – my successes and failures. From a girl wanting no association with anything STEM, because I was afraid of society’s perception of me to a girl being nerdy, to now glowing in STEM, because of her life’s journey and the impact of men and women that has crossed her path.”
She also said, “girls you are beautiful, you are valuable even in safety boots, lab coats or hard hats.”
Due to her passion for inclusivity within the fields of STEM, Joylyn hosted several STEM camps, and outreach programs, where she taught girls how to perform science experiments, and gave career and academic guidance. In 2019, she collaborated with former Developer Circle:Georgetown Lead & tech genius Samantha Sheoprashad, to host a STEM camp at the Berbice High School. The main focus was educating and empowering girls from the Berbice High School and the New Amsterdam Technical Institute, where they emphasised about technology and the opportunities currently available to Guyana and the wider Caribbean. They duo further explained about STEM and its importance to girls and women in our country and even the world at large.
Joylyn’s STEM Girl Glow Initiative, focuses on lights (i.e role models, parents, teachers, mentors) guiding girls to enter into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields of study and careers, and more so to stay the course. It also empowers them to discover their own light, and instils that the radiance of their natural and God-given light is sufficient to have them glow beyond the stereotypes.
She said, “the initiative aims to target girls that reside in rural communities and small towns of Guyana. These girls are intelligent – either by the books or skills and are oftentimes overlooked because of their geographical location, which would result in them lacking exposure and being denied various opportunities.”
As Miss World- Guyana 2019, Joylyn is the young version of a girl who is glowing in a STEM-based area, where she’ll work to implement various programs and sessions, which will show girls that they too can be smart and beautiful.
“It will also show girls that they too can determine their value and that STEM-based areas of study or work are not unfeminine,” Conway told this publication.
As of recently, Joylyn has not been under the STEM Girl Glow Initiative but has still been making an impact through her profession as a lecturer – there she continues to shine her light on STEM Education.
In the near future, Joylyn will rejuvenate the STEM Girls Glow initiative and will continue to educate and empower girls.
Joylyn said, “I live to educate and empower girls in STEM and those who aspire to be. I truly believe that’s my life’s purpose.”
Conway was quoted saying, “I believe all girls deserve a shot at knowing she can imagine, inspire and invent.”
She further added, “within Guyana, when one compares the quality of education, availability of resources, level of financial stability and exposure, experienced among young people residing in rural and/or far flung communities or towns, to that of the large towns and city, a gap exists.”
Conway noted that she was once a girl on the less fortunate side of that gap, however with the help of many mentors, she strived and is still striving to become the change she wishes to see.
She continued by saying, “I want young people, especially young women and girls, to be knowledgeable and experience the possibilities beyond the confines of their community, and hopefully return and make an impact, resulting in a positive ripple effect.”
As Joylyn is striving to accomplish via her Initiative and profession, as such she was empowered to continue driving change.
Joylyn’s greatest challenge has been to keep going, “despite the challenges that arise. I wouldn’t say I’ve overcome it, since I have no control over challenges – rather when they arise I remind myself of why I’m doing it! The purpose I believe God has for me, the sacrifices of my giants/mentors, how far I’ve come, and most importantly the growth I saw and continue to see in some of our STEM Girls and that of my students.”
Joylyn’s mantra is “Aspire to Inspire before you expire,” as it embodies everything she strives to do and become.
“You gatto wanna succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful”, a quote coined by Eric Thomas keeps Conway motivated despite the challenges that may arise.
Joylyn is a 2022 recipient of the 25 influential Women Leaders Award by Nico Consulting and Cerulean Inc.
Conway is also an entrepreneur, she recently launched her business called ‘Conway’s Graphixe’ where she works as a freelance graphic designer creating logos, e-certificates, flyers, menus, infographics, social media content, business cards, and much more.