AWIS Member Spotlight:
Tandeka Boko, MD
Assistant Professor Life Sciences/Director
of NASA North Carolina Space Grant
Forsyth Technical Community College
AWIS member since 2021
“Never forget where you come from.”
What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned?
The importance and value of modeling self-care.
What do you consider to be your most important career achievement or milestone?
Receiving national recognition for my work in the area of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility in STEM. I was awarded the 2023 Meridian Award from AWIS.
What do you aspire to accomplish in your career and why? What obstacles will you overcome?
I work on becoming a recognized servant leader in higher education. Because I made the decision to leave medicine to focus my energies on raising my children, I am seen as overqualified or under-experienced, two obstacles I continually try to overcome.
Describe an amazing opportunity in your STEM career.
Because I love learning and I love the performing arts, I accepted a Science Communication opportunity, alongside my students, to be trained in STEM Storytelling. This opportunity came through a FUTURES STEM for All grant administered through the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center.
How was AWIS helped you professionally and/or personally?
AWIS has provided me with an amazing network of STEM women of all ages, career roles, levels and of various institutions, including private and public sectors, both nationally and internationally. I can also actually have real, down to earth, safe space conversations with those whom I reach out to.
What is your favorite word? (only one word)
How do you define it?
I define perseverance as practices that one implements, that allow you to continue to move forward, even if it involves backwards or lateral steps, all the while remembering that self-care is a component of persevering too.
How has this word influenced or inspired your career?
It’s actually a word that I dreaded hearing from my Infectious Disease Attending every day. I now know exactly what he was trying to teach us. Persevering through challenges not only makes us stronger, but it also gives us a victory story to share with others who are going through.
How does AWIS impact your career journey?
The women of AWIS impact my career journey by sharing their story and their expertise through advice, example and access.
What are you currently reading or listening to?
The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
What do you consider the best professional or personal advice you’ve ever received?
As I travel, my mother reminds me not to forget where I come from. I embrace her words to mean that I need to remember who I am, through the foundation of where I come from. This self-reflection has allowed me to have the courage to be my authentic self, which is mentally and emotionally freeing.
Tandeka Boko’s STEM journey began in high school when an African American female guidance counselor asked her to become a math tutor. She facilitates the acquisition of knowledge through partnerships with learners seeking a variety of STEM career pathways. She has conducted environmental research in rural and urban communities in North America and in Eastern Africa. She is a champion for promoting practices of inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility for marginalized groups in STEM.