Brooke Jones is a senior engineer in the Product Movement and Engineering department at FedEx. Her fascination with computer science and aviation started with an early social networking site that predates Facebook.
"I liked building websites--back in the day I used MySpace," she says. "That's what drew me into STEM."
But it was Girls Inc. of Memphis that sealed the deal. Starting in tenth grade, Brooke took part in TRiO programming through Girls Inc., opening her eyes to the world of math and science. The summers she spent at math and science camp at UT Knoxville intensified her interest.
"Those camps opened my eyes because there were students there from all over the place," she said. "I was never that interested in chemistry before, but once I got there and saw people who were so good at it, I wanted to learn more."
She earned her bachelor's in technology management from the University of Memphis in 2012 and soon transformed her part time job at FedEx office into full time technology work at FedEx. She's proud of her success as a woman working in a field dominated by men--and of what that success has meant for her and her family.
"Growing up, my mom was disabled," Brooke said as a panelist following a special showing of Hidden Figures for Girls Inc. participants (see story above). "My aunt took care of me and mom and we always lived with somebody else. Last year I bought my first house. Working hard and being able to take care of my mom by myself and not having to put the burden on someone else has been so rewarding."
Brooke continues to learn and grow--while working she's managed to earn a master's degree in aviation management. But her Girls Inc. connection has also helped mold her into a role model and inspired her to be more involved in the community. Her willingness to serve on the panel for the Hidden Figures event is just one example.
"We need more movies like Hidden Figures," Brooke says. "I think it did an amazing job of showcasing three women in science. And I expect to see more like it. I think the creative minds have identified the avenues available to expose girls to STEM and make it interesting."
With or without Hollywood, Brooke says she'll continue to advocate for making STEM education available to all girls.
"Organizations offering STEM camps and workshops to young women are crucial to the advancement of women in STEM," Brooke said. "STEM is not as trendy as fashion and other arts, but it is the foundation of all those things. The more we expose young girls to the endless possibilities STEM has, it will become a trend."