Tamara Brown, BE’93 honored as White House Champion of Change

The White House recognized 12 community heroes, including Vanderbilt engineering alumna Tamara Brown, BE’93, as leaders in engaging women and girls in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The ceremony took place December 9 at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House where Brown was named a Champion of Change, part of the President’s Winning the Future initiative.

Seven years ago, Brown led the founding of the American Association of University Women(AAUW) Buffalo, New York Tech Savvy program, endeavored to inspire middle school girls to pursue STEM careers. With close partnership with industry, academia, and community stakeholders, Tech Savvy has grown to inspire thousands of girls and the adults in their lives.

Tamara Brown

Tech Savvy girls gain practical knowledge and build confidence during fun, hands-on workshops led by role models and learn “savvy” success skills such as ethical decision-making and negotiation. Parallel adult sessions equip parents with tools for early college preparation while teachers attend training classes to gain new techniques for STEM education. Tech Savvy has helped to inform attendees’ academic choices; past attendees have pursued college studies in engineering and other STEM fields.

According to Brown’s Champions of Change blog entry, “For me, “Tech Savvy” isn’t just about the event.  “Tech Savvy” is about creating a culture.  There are two key components of such a culture: providing girls with multiple possibilities for their future and an environment – home, school, industry—that is supportive of diversity in STEM.”

“Students leave their workshops pondering how they can solve future problems —resource shortages, medical challenges, disaster preparedness.  Hopefully, they leave with more questions, than answers—and lots of enthusiasm and the support to start working on those questions,” wrote Brown.

Brown’s own career in medical device development and project management spurs her passion to encourage STEM to women, minorities, and underserved populations. Tamara earned her bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University, double majoring in chemical engineering and biomedical engineering. She also holds a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo and is completing a Master’s degree in Business Administration. She is currently working to expand Tech Savvy to other regions of the country, including her home state of Mississippi.