REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Despite a continuing disparity between the numbers of men and women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, one U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command employee was not going to be deterred.

Kenya T. McLin, an operations research analyst with SMDC's Technical Center, graduated summa cum laude from Tuskegee University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics. She said that her mother was her role model.

"My mother would definitely have to be the role model who encouraged me to enter into STEM," McLin said. "She kept suggesting that I pursue a 'technical degree' even though initially I had no idea what she meant."

McLin chose a mathematics degree at the beginning of her third year of undergraduate studies.
"My greatest impediment entering this field has been understanding the real-life applications for mathematics," McLin said. "All throughout school, I clearly understood 'how' to do the math, but I was not exposed to the 'why' and 'what' for mathematical concepts. 'Why is math so important?' and 'What do the calculations actually mean?' were two questions I consistently asked myself early in my government career."

McLin joined the federal workforce in December 2009 as a member of the Concepts Analysis Lab, but she currently works in the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator program office. She is responsible for the business operations with the HEL MD program, mainly data interpretation and analysis.

"Now, I have a clear, overall understanding of how our efforts work together for the best interest of our brave active-duty Soldiers," McLin said. "They are the reason I continue to work hard and put forth my best efforts."

March is Women's History Month, and the 2013 theme is "Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics." Although McLin is just beginning her career, she has sound advice for female high school and college students who have chosen a STEM path as well.

"Stay focused on the end goal, and do not give up at the first sign of difficulty," she said. "It may seem like a long, endless journey, but with commitment and dedication, the end reward will be great!"

McLin also encourages younger girls to seriously consider a career in STEM.

"This is undoubtedly a great field to go into. The STEM field is constantly growing and developing, which allows opportunity for innovation and creativity," she said. "Being in a male-dominated field might seem intimidating, but instead, use that fuel to ignite your fire!"