The first thing that most people know about Elizabeth Kleiner is that she’s a swimmer. As a varsity swimmer at Iowa State University, Elizabeth has moved from a member of her school’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee to the organization’s second-ever female president. Through this position, Elizabeth has learned to be extremely focused, to communicate efficiently, and most importantly, to lead by example.
But Elizabeth isn’t just leading by example as an athlete—the second thing that you should know about her is that she is making strides for women in STEM (which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics). Nationally, women hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs and earn a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. With her microbiology and pyschology majors and her experience as a research assistant at both the Center for Biorenewable Chemicals Research Experience for Undergraduates Program in Irvine, CA and at the Psychology and Law Laboratory at Iowa State, Elizabeth is working toward medical school and a career as a doctor, shattering stereotypes about females in STEM and leading the way for future women to follow her example.
Name: Elizabeth Kleiner
College: Iowa State University
Majors: Microbiology and Psychology
Graduation Year: 2016
Hometown: Lakeville, MN
Twitter Handle: @elizkleiner
Instagram Handle: elizkleiner
Her Campus: What misconceptions, stereotypes and overall obstacles do you find most prevalent in the STEM field for young women? How can collegiettes overcome them?
Elizabeth Kleiner: That science and engineering (and math) are fields that only men can be successful in. When most people think of a doctor, a researcher, a chemical engineer or even a mathematician, they imagine the person as male. Collegiettes can overcome this by working hard towards their goals and taking advantage of scholarships and internships that are offered so that they can get solid experience before post-graduate life.
HC: How has participating on a sports team made you who you are? What skills and experiences has it given you? Would you recommend athletics to pre-collegiettes who are unsure if they want to commit to college sports?
EK: Participating on a sports team has given me a lot of confidence and time management skills, and it is a concrete way of showing how hard work pays off. I would highly recommend athletics to pre-collegiettes if they have the opportunity to do so! The majority of people you meet in college will not have had the chance to compete on a collegiate team. It is very challenging, with the mental and physical work you have to put in, but it has given me so many opportunities. If I could go back and do it over I wouldn’t change a thing!
HC: What do you think is the biggest factor that led you to where you are today?
EK: The single biggest factor that led me to where I am today is my parents, hands down. They have always supported me. From finding a college to attend to whether I would swim in college and even applying for medical school, they have been there for me every step of the way offering advice and encouragement. However, it was clear that if I wanted to do something, I had to do the work to make it happen. Without them I would not be as driven, faithful and passionate as I am, and I can never thank them enough for that.
HC: What are your top goals and priorities post-graduation?
EK: My number one goal after graduating is to become a doctor and contribute to society by discovering new treatments and therapies for those in need.
HC: What advice do you have for other ambitious collegiettes with a goal/dream?
EK: Never, ever, ever, ever give up. You will not get everything you want. You will apply for an internship and not get it. You will apply for a job and not get it. Keep trying, because if you are persistent and put your mind to it the work you put in will pay off.
HC: What is your favorite inspirational quote?
EK: “Make every day count by using your talents to make a difference.” – Kevin Luce
Alicia serves as an Assistant Editor for Her Campus. She graduated from Penn State in 2015 with degrees in Journalism and Spanish and a minor in International Studies. Before she joined HC full-time, Alicia worked for the editorial team as an intern, editor of the Her Story section, editor of the Career section, standard content writer, viral content writer, and News Blogger. When she's not busy writing or editing, Alicia enjoys attempting to become a yogi, cooking, practicing her wine tasting skills, hanging out with her Friends (you know—Chandler, Monica, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe & Joey?) and city-hopping her way across the globe. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @aliciarthomas.