People often ask why representation is important. And by people I almost exclusively mean cis straight white people, you know the group represented the most. This means they do not understand the deep fear, and sadness that comes from being underrepresented. Tonight was the first night I have ever met an LGBTQ+ scientist, and one of the very few I have ever even heard of. I also can’t remember seeing any on TV. I do not have the words to explain the relief that meeting her caused me. It is tremendously difficult to feel like the field you want to go into has no one like you, no one to understand you inherently without the need for extraneous explanations. It strikes a fear in your core, like an arrow lodged in your chest because what if it means you can’t do it, what if no one like you is there for a reason, what if your greatest passion becomes untenable without denying who you are. When I met Dr. Lauren Esposito today I felt like that arrow was removed. Until then I had the weight of uncertainty, fear, and turmoil on my shoulders and then all the sudden it was gone. Just because I was represented once. This is the power of representation. When all you’ve ever seen in your life is people who you can’t relate to, it’s hard to see yourself anywhere. Despite knowing I wanted to go into science, until today I could never picture it, could never see it, believe it, because it never felt like a place I could exist. No where did. But even just seeing one person like me, has allowed me to feel like I could belong. So that’s why representation is import, because without it you can’t see yourself anywhere, and the future becomes foggy and dim, as you try to make your way through the haze.