As part of Rising Stars: AAPI, the oSTEM D&I team strives to share the diverse stories and experiences of members of the AAPI community at the intersection of LGTBQIA+ in STEM. As the first in our AAPI series, Eric Kwok (he/him/his) shares what it has meant to him to be both first-generation Chinese-American and queer. From East Coast to West Coast and down to the South, in this video, Eric explores the ways in which his identities have shaped how he shows up in life, work, and family. An electrical engineer at Raytheon and the Director of Design & Social Media on oSTEM’s Marketing and Communications Committee, we invite you to learn more about Eric and his journey!
Akiyl El (he/him) is a mechanical engineering student at NYU. Half Dominican and half Colombian, Akiyl was born and raised in NYC and says that getting into the university was a dream. Akiyl credits FIRST Robotics with giving him an interest and head start in his field. He has hopes of continuing in robotics and/or going into biomedical engineering after graduation. Akiyl is a member of SHPE and the president of his oSTEM chapter. He says that he deeply values community and that being a part of organizations like this have helped him to gain a confidence in being openly himself that he didn’t have prior to college. Finding a family in oSTEM, Akiyl says that he is able to be visibly queer for individuals who might not feel safe being openly out.
You can read excerpts of our interview with Akiyl below:

We are excited to announce that our Request for Proposals for our 9th Annual Conference is now open!

This is a fantastic opportunity for our LGBTQ+ STEM community and family to have their voices heard and to share their experience and expertise. Programs can vary from sharing technical experience and expertise to LGBTQ+ health and wellness to career and professional development. If your program is selected you will be offered a 50% discounted registration for all presenters per program.

The deadline is May 31, so head on over to for more information and to submit your proposal today!

Through Rising Stars, the oSTEM D&I team strives to share the many faces and identities in the LGBTQ STEM communities. Meet Phoebe Bisnoff (she/her, they/them), a senior studying Chemical Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Phoebe discusses the difficulties they found moving to the other side of the country for school as well as finding a community within STEM.
Being a butch non-binary lesbian made finding a place among their STEM peers difficult. Due to this lack of space, Phoebe ended up founding the chapter at UMass and served as their President for 3 years. As a result, Phoebe says that their oSTEM chapter became a fiercely loving community. Phoebe credits their oSTEM experience with propelling their involvement in other university climate enrichment programs and helping them to improve their own mental health, GPA, and confidence for the next step in their journey.

Graduating from Bowling Green State University with a degree in theatrical design after a finding herself consistently the only black woman, Alexis Moody struggled to secure any interviews or to find a pathway into her chosen career. Despite that disappointing journey, Alexis is now in leadership as a senior software engineer at a DC startup. In this edition of oSTEM’s Rising Stars: Black & Out, Alexis tells how an unexpected encounter led her to a coding bootcamp where she found overwhelming support for women and nonbinary people as well as resources for getting internships and eventual jobs. Finding inclusion as an employee, led Alexis to personally including her queer identity empowering her to come out in recent years. Knowing what it is to be on the outside, Alexis is committed to mentoring and bringing people forward into their own successes. Finally, Alexis is an avid quidditch player and volunteer for the International Quidditch Association, and says that she’s always looking for folks who want to level up their web design skills by volunteering!

CW: Alexis’ story includes some themes of internalized homophobia. If you feel this content may be triggering, you can fast forward from 2:40 - 2:58.

For information on volunteering or to ask questions about getting into Tech, Alexis invites you to get in touch via Twitter.

I am a Ph.D. student in physics on an academic path, so conferences are an important part of my career. These are meetings of various sizes (some as small as 40 people, others as large as 11,000) where I get to learn what is the current work of my peers and those I look up to, where I get to present my own work spreading what results I have made with my research, and where I get to connect and network with other researchers forming future collaborations and even just catching up with academic friends. I have been lucky to attend many conferences during my graduate career, often finding funding opportunities from programs both on and off my campus, because I also have an advisor that has been very supportive of these key scientific events. I also find these events as great places to mentor younger students and promote diversity in the physics community. While there have been many onetime conferences that have been beneficial, there are a few that I tend to go to ever year that they occur: the American Physical Society (APS) March Meeting, the APS Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics, Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics Dynamical Systems Conference, and the oSTEM National Meeting totaling to about 5-6 each year.

At some point during a weeklong conference, I get exhausted.
Through Rising Stars: Black & Out, the oSTEM D&I team strives to share the many faces and identities in the Black LGBTQ STEM communities. This video introduces you to Lianna Newman (no pronouns, please; just Lianna!), a full stack developer who discusses how growing up black meant receiving a blueprint at home for what is required to ‘get by’. Weaving together intersecting identities as a black, nonbinary, and queer individual mean Lianna regularly ends up educating others while at work. The emotional toll of being frequently misgendered and having dialogue short-circuited when white coworkers challenge Lianna’s statements as ‘too aggressive’ means Lianna often searches for remote work. Working remotely means less time spent educating on the job and more time honing Lianna’s skills as a developer. Lianna says that the true measure of building a diverse workforce goes beyond ‘checking boxes’ and focuses on elevating diverse individuals into visible positions of leadership, power, and management.
oSTEM’s D&I team features Rising Stars who are LGBTQ in STEM because we recognize the many diverse faces and voices within our community. As part of our Black & Out series, we introduce you to Nic Dinkins (he/him). Nic is a software developer in Washington DC who identifies as a black, gay trans man. He shares how coming out as trans in undergrad, coupled with a rocky family relationship ended up with him being asked to leave his school for a year on academic probation. Lacking dialogue around seeking employment as a trans person, lacking any form of personal support, and being from a low socioeconomic background, Nic discusses missing key opportunities during his traditional college years. Fast forward, and Nic has become a mentor of folks who fight similar challenges. He shares specific tips to employers aimed at improving their metrics so that hiring processes are inclusive of diverse candidates. In under a decade, Nic has gone from being “extremely closeted” to playing an active role in changing how the Tech industry around him values the personal experiences of people who have overcome obstacles.
oSTEM's D&I team celebrates the many faces whose identities intersect within underserved communities of LGBTQ people in STEM. In this video, we introduce you to AJ Bryant (he/him), a sophomore at Penn State with plans to become a doctor who treats transgender patients. AJ is a half black, half Puerto Rican who grew up being bussed out of the Boston intercity to an all-white school in the suburbs. As a result, AJ knows what it feels like to never quite feel a part of communities around him. The first transgender powerlifter at Penn State, AJ attributes much of his confidence to finding a team that welcomes him and a dad who always calls him “son”. A February 2019 ban by the USAPL left AJ reeling. Watch his response to the ban and hear how important support has been to his ability to continue embracing his identity.
Angie is a queer Latinx woman who is taking on the world, one issue at a time. In spring 2018, she graduated from New York University with dual B.S. degrees in Physics and Electrical Engineering and then moved across the county to begin a job as a Reliability Engineer at Northrop Grumman. A first generation college student who’s navigated a variety of challenges, Angie describes herself as “really passionate” about diversity and inclusion, social justice, and community outreach. She is an alumnus of the Point Foundation and INROADS, as well as a former NACME scholar. Angie volunteers as an Admissions Director for the Engineering Conference of Out for Undergrad (O4U), and she loves CrossFit, hiking, and visiting her friends and family in New York.


Get to know Angie a little more through her interview in this Rising Stars blog post.

For the past two years, as a precursor to our annual oSTEM conference, we’ve offered a Hackathon for our technology-focused members to come together and have fun, make new friends, and work on projects for the LGBTQ+ community. This year we saw doubled member participation, had an amazing local partner in Houston who offered data sets to work on, and shipped some amazing products as a result!