Mom Understands Both Sides of the Equation

Shari Schexnayder works with students in a number of ways, including as a mentor for robotics teams and a judge at science fairs.

As a woman who works in a technical field, Shari Schexnayder knows the challenges faced by girls who pursue STEM careers. As the mother of three daughters, she also knows the value of giving those girls what they need to overcome challenges.

“I tell the high school girls I work with that it’s more than OK to like science and math, and while their best friend might think it’s weird, that’s OK,” Schexnayder said. “There are other girls out there who loved advanced math and physics too, way before it was cool. And we have great careers now.”

Schexnayder is a Maintenance and Reliability Leader for Site Infrastructure Maintenance at Dow’s Hahnville, Louisiana, site. A Louisiana native, she has been with Dow for eight years. Schexnayder has been an active volunteer. She has been a FIRST® Robotics mentor, a judge in the local science fair and a judge in the You be the Chemist competition.

Last year, Schexnayder joined the ranks of Dow STEM Ambassadors, a group of employees dedicated to sharing the excitement of STEM fields with students and other members of the public. Ambassadors receive special training to help them connect with people most effectively. They develop self-contained kits so members don’t have to cobble together materials or figure out the best way to conduct a demonstration. Activities have been designed in consultation with educators and experts from organizations including the Smithsonian so that everything is curriculum-based and educationally sound.

Shari Schexnayder
“You don’t have to have super skills or have a Ph.D. or know all the answers to be A STEM Ambassador,” Schexnayder said. “The kids love having someone else in the classroom. They love having someone new to share their knowledge and to show off a little. It’s motivating for them and a confidence builder.”

 Schexnayder said she’s grateful that the Company supports the volunteer work that she and so many other employees do. Most will readily admit that they get as much out of it as they give.

“It’s so exciting when you see a child ‘get it,’ when they put it together and it all starts making sense. When they learn a new skill, their face just lights up,” Schexnayder said. “I also want children to know that science is fun and that they can do whatever they want and determine their own future. If I can covey to students and youth that they are intellectually capable and that they can achieve whatever goal they dream, then I have succeeded.”