This article is part of a series authored by Dr. Christine Grant and published in Diversity in Action magazine.

I have never been camping in the wild. I did, however, camp in my kitchen – lining up chairs, covered blankets held in place by rubber bands. This elementary school girl was already working on structures long before her first statistics class at Brown University. My toys, fake people (i.e., dolls and imaginary friends) all convened in my tent to plan for the future. It was a future of world peace, power and all that I had seen on 1960s cartoons and PBS shows. I had dreams and visions and BIG plans for the area I ruled under the tent in the kitchen. In this case, the rea future was the two hours later when dinner was ready and the family needed the chairs back.

Now, 50 years later, I know I was nurturing my STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering Arts and Math) gene – through my dreams and visions. Lucky for me, my dad (the music teacher) and my mom (the science teacher) nurtured the creativity inside. I thought everyone built greenhouses with old windows, had a darkroom in the closet and did science experiments on the weekend with their mom. Who knew that the weekends spent helping my dad design and build a boat were actually engineering? My dream was to do, but it took a pre-college engineering program to call it engineering!

We should each have a dream that overlaps our STEM career. The dream is like a secret tent we have around our STEM vision. We stock up provisions for the STEM journey – of course not always in plain sight. We may take an online class, pursue an entrepreneurial venture or be mentored by a corporate coach. We dare to dream – a DREAM is “Defying Reality, Executing the Amazing for Me” (and others). Don’t let your dreams be thwarted by the changing position and capacity of your tent.