Q&A with First Lady Lynne Kesselman
Two-time Stockton alumna shares her journey as a woman in STEM.
by Samantha Cary ’13
by Samantha Cary ’13
First Lady Lynne Kesselman is a two-time Stockton alumna (she earned a bachelor’s degree in Business in 1982 and a Master of Arts in Instructional Technology in 2005) and a nationally recognized technology educator, who taught computer technology at Egg Harbor Township High School for more than 14 years.
Kesselman’s interest in promoting computer science among students has continued at Stockton. As the president and founder of the Computer Science Teachers Association Southern New Jersey (CSTA-SNJ) chapter, she helped organize annual CSTA-SNJ computer science competitions, beginning in 2015, at Stockton. CSTA also co-sponsored the inaugural StockHack, a 24-hour innovation, design and technology competition, with Stockton Computer Society and Information Technology Services in February.
In the following Q&A, Kesselman shares her journey as a woman in STEM, her inspiration, and her vision for the future of STEM for women and young girls.
Q: Why did you choose Stockton?
A: I came for a campus visit and everyone was so friendly and enthusiastic about being on this campus. I went for a walk around the lake and it was one of those gorgeous days where you walk around the lake and you don’t ever want to leave, and I just didn’t want to leave. I had a great chat with Ken Blue in Admissions. He looked over my materials and told me, “You would be a great fit here,” and I really felt like I would be a good student here.
Q: How did you get involved in technology education? Who or what inspired you to do
A: As a Business major, I took programming courses which then put me in a position to be able to teach programming at the high school level as a K-12 certified business educator, teaching the use of applications and Microsoft. As I was watching my students, they got really creative when they started drawing or working on projects overlapping different shapes in ClipArt to create new shapes. I started looking at other kinds of software they could use to enhance those pictures and images. Watching my students being so creative in their work made me want to become a better teacher and be able to give them more tools that they needed.
Q: Describe what STEM initiatives you’re involved in with the CSTA-SNJ chapter and
A: For me, in that organization, what I think is one of the most important and enriching opportunities is to create a network of guest speakers who can come in and talk about topics that are important to educators in the STEM fields and mostly computer science – not just programming, but the creativity of the concepts of computer science, and engaging students at a young age so that they realize it is an opportunity for them to have a career path in computer science.
At Egg Harbor Township High School, we participated in the Adobe Certification program where students would become certified in different kinds of Adobe software, including Adobe Flash, which creates animation and games. I worked with the art teachers to have them present in class and explain more about the drawing techniques they could use in the software. Now, a lot of the art teachers, even in the younger grades, have started to incorporate a little more technology into the artistry that they are using, so students could use technology and the artistry at the same time.
Q: What are some of your goals for providing opportunities for women to pursue careers in technology? What would you like the future to look like for women in STEM?
A: I think it’s really important that young women and young children know that they can use computer science, computer technology and STEM careers to create a difference, to give a voice and to fulfill a need – be it a societal need, a technology need or even just a fun kind of need. I would like to see them have access to the tools that they need, be it free software or some technology to use. A lot of software companies are moving to offer free software for their applications to create new apps, and I think that works as a springboard for young people to create a change and do the things that they’d like to do because they have that ability and technology in their hands.
Q: What advice do you have for young women considering an education and career in
STEM, particularly technology?
A: Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to try something new. We have people who are in their second, third or fourth careers now trying to learn computer science, and they are always learning something new. Young people right now have an opportunity to just open their eyes and look out and see so much that they can do. It can be a little overwhelming at times, so work with your teachers and get them to help you pick what you would like to do and how you can use your best strengths. But don’t be afraid to try something new.