Let's Ask

by Jazzy Gray

Photo courtesy of WIT at BU Facebook Page

When juniors Leeya Pressburger (CAS ’21), Emma Nix (CAS ’21) and Sophie Phillips (CAS ’21) first met during their freshman year at BU, they had no idea they would be piloting BU’s first—and, only—women in STEM fraternity just two short years later.

Alpha Sigma Kappa, or ASK, may only be in its inaugural year at BU, but the organization has been supporting women in STEM fields across the country for much longer. First established at the University of Minnesota in 1989, the fraternity has expanded its reach, opening chapters across the nation, to support women in all STEM-related fields. The trio first contacted the National ASK organization last year when they felt they weren’t properly being supported as women in STEM.

“We all have personalities and we want to be normal human beings, but sometimes in the classroom it doesn’t feel like that,” explained Phillips, who acts as Chief Executive Officer. “We wished there was a better support system.”

So these women created their own support system; their President of External Affairs, Pressburger, called it a “community.” By founding ASK at BU, these women are actively seeking to support all of their fellow women in STEM—to be the support system a traditional classroom may not offer.

ASK may identify as a Greek organization, but the group is quick to point out their differences. Pressburger chuckled as she clarified further: “It’s not just a bio frat or chem frat. We want [to] build each other up and create a positive space for people to bond over a shared common ground.”

This is accomplished by including all disciplines, whether it’s architecture, mathematics, biology or physics. “It’s very interdisciplinary,” shared Co-President Nix. “It [allows us] to have bigger conversations.”

And bigger conversations are certainly had. When asked what advice they’d give underclassmen, the trio’s answers were quick and varied. But they all shared a common theme: failure.

“Learn how to fail,” said Pressburger, “You might cry and eat a lot of ice cream, [but] you can fail and it’s not going to define you.”

“Don’t give up on Gen. Chem,” joked Nix. Phillips echoed their sentiments, saying that you must “learn to laugh at your failures.”

And if you’re a woman in a STEM related field, they would love to laugh with you. This year, ASK at BU has recruited over 20 women for their chapter. And if you’re looking to join them? Just reach out.

“We’re hoping to be a lot more open as a group,” said Nix.

At its core, ASK is simply a group of women looking to struggle with other women. As Phillips pointed out, “[At times] it can feel like we’re representing all women in [science], and that puts a lot of pressure on [us].” These women want their members, their peers and each other to know that it’s okay to feel pressured. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. It’s okay to fail.

They can help. You just need to ASK.

Interested? Check them out on Instagram @bualphasigmakappa or on Facebook at Alpha Sigma Kappa - WITS at Boston University!