Black History Month Highlight: Alena Analeigh

Alena, @thebrownstemgirl, looks to address racial and gender inequality in STEM

You may have heard of The Brown Stem Girl organization, which empowers, educates, and motivates young girls of color in STEM. However, did you know it was founded by Alena Analeigh, the youngest Black person accepted into medical school in the U.S.?

Alena is a native of Fontana, California, but grew up in Fort Worth, Texas. In elementary school, Alena faced bullying, and her principal told her she "couldn't get all A’s because of her skin color.” Afterward, she was homeschooled by her mother, Daphne McQuarter, and returned to school in the fifth grade. Aiming to address racial and gender inequality in STEM fields, Alena developed The Brown STEM Girl (BSG) website during her high school years. Her dream with BSG was to "create this culture of Brown girls in STEM." Alena did just that by first creating a business plan and doing research to talk with the right people to get the foundation off the ground. Now, the Brown STEM Girl organization provides scholarships, mentoring, study abroad, and internship opportunities for girls of color interested in STEM. She was able to complete numerous advanced curriculums allowing her to finish high school at the age of 12.

Alena has looked up to many people she considers influencers on her life, including Dr. Mae Jeminson. "Dr. Mae Jeminson is the first woman of color to travel to space. Her passion for STEM and for social change really inspires me. Michelle Obama inspires me and has influenced me. She isn't just our former first lady; she is an activist for social change; she continues to write her own part in history, which is a story that tells every little girl of color that no matter what, you can. Her passion for women and girls rights truly inspires me."

Alena began attending Arizona State University, where she double-majored in astronomical and planetary science and chemistry. A trip to Jordan inspired Alena to change her major to pre-med after becoming interested in viral immunology. She received a 2024 offer from the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Heersink School of Medicine through their early assistance program. This program partnered with several Black schools to offer early acceptance to medical school students. Alena has fulfilled many dreams, including becoming the youngest intern for NASA, where she conducted research for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Her accomplishments include the Forbes 30 under 30 nomination, the TIME and Nickelodeon Kid of the Year finalist, the Global Child Prodigy Award for World in Science, Ebony HBCU STEM Queen, and the President's Volunteer Service Lifetime Achievement Award.

In celebration of Black History Month, we asked Alena what Black History represents to her, and she replied, "Every day is black history to me. My culture and who we are as people. We are pretty dope people who are ever-evolving. We have contributed so much to history as a whole. The history of who I am is important to me. I am frequently learning more about myself, my culture, my people, and my ethnicity. Black History means power. It means appreciation. It means acknowledgment, it means representation, it means community. Its beauty is sometimes hidden in a culture that has endured trials and tribulations. Torture and Triumph. Yet, in the end, the slow and steady race has birthed out of the wombs of our ancestors some of the greatest human beings. People that tell the tales of Black History. A history that will not be erased, and whose stories speak the truths of a world they tried to suppress. Black History to me, is being the voice of my people. Even when we are at times silenced by a society that has repeatedly tried to dismiss us. It is the freedom to tell the stories of my ancestors. The story of where we have been and where we are going. It is a legacy. I am my ancestors' wildest dreams. I am Black History."

Written by Rhonisha Ridgeway, MAKERS Social Media Coordinator.