'STEM pioneer' opens Woodlands Academy series
One of the first African-American women to earn a Ph.D. in physics, whose current focus is on providing an effective, accessible and affordable cancer treatment with little to no side effects, provided an inspirational launch of Woodlands Academy's 2020-21 "Imagine Yourself in the C-Suite" series.
Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green spent an hour sharing insights and advice in response to questions from students at the all-girls, college-prep high school in Lake Forest Oct. 26.
Following more than 10 years of interdisciplinary research experience, Green has developed a cutting-edge cancer treatment utilizing lasers and nanotechnology to kill cancer cells in mice in 15 days after a single, 10-minute treatment, with no observable side effects.
Additionally, she has developed a platform for early detection, imaging, targeting and selective treatment of head and neck cancers.
Armed with solid research data, Green and her nonprofit foundation are on a mission to raise funds for human clinical trials and demonstrate effectiveness in a variety of cancer models, including brain, lung, skin and colorectal, all with the vision to drastically reduce the current annual rate of 8.8 million worldwide deaths caused by cancer.
Her Woodlands Academy forum was done via a Zoom meeting due to COVID-19 precautions. The school had begun the 2020-21 year by returning to full-time, in-person classroom education, but returned to remote learning Oct. 20, immediately after the Lake County Health Department urged all public and private schools in the county to do so.
Green, described by numerous publications as a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) pioneer, told students that her career path was not a direct route. The decision to focus her STEM education on cancer research was driven by the suffering she witnessed while caring for the aunt who raised her and then the deep sense of loss she felt after her death. Green's Ora Lee Smith Cancer Research Foundation is named in honor of her aunt.
Her advice to girls seeking to navigate STEM fields: "Have a strong background in math and do more reading than just what's required for the course work. Think about things differently. Don't just ask how or why, but rather think about applying what you learn to make things better."
Green went on to tell students at the independent Catholic school that faith has always been a huge part of her journey and her successes.
"I would always pray before taking exams, and it worked 100 percent of the time," she said.
The importance of female role models was also emphasized.
"Find a woman who's doing what you want to do and then learn from her as an example of what you can do."
Asked about what she'd change about her high school years if she could, Green was quick to respond that she would have studied harder for the ACT. She also regretted not participating in more of the available activities.
"I probably should have tried out for a high school play or learned to play an instrument," she said.
Green concluded her remarks by saying how impressed she was with all the student questions she was asked.
The "Imagine Yourself in the C-Suite" series invites highly accomplished individuals to be interviewed by Woodlands Academy students in order to learn from their experiences and then begin imagining themselves in leadership positions.
There are a few presentations to Woodlands students each school year that include -- in non-pandemic times -- one public forum open to girls from other schools in and around Lake Forest as well.
For more information about Woodlands Academy, visit www.woodlandsacademy.org.