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Representation Matters: Kid asks to interview Asian-American marine biologist for school project

Elaine Shen was overwhelmed with emotion when a third-grader emailed her asking if they could interview her for their school project.

Representation Matters: Kid asks to interview Asian-American marine biologist for school project
Image source: Twitter/@ElaineShen

As a kid, it's important to have good role models to look up to, and it's equally, if not more, important to have a role model that you can identify with. Being able to visualize yourself as someone you aspire to become gives kids the ability to believe in themselves. Elaine Shen is a marine biologist working on fisheries ecology and environmental DNA. Little did she know that she'd be an inspiration for a small kid out there. Shen was pleasantly surprised and overwhelmed with emotion when a third-grader emailed her, asking if they could interview her for their school project. She broke down in happy tears after reading the email. Shen shared a screenshot of the email and said the student had reached out to her for their big biography project because they are interested in marine biology and are an Asian American too. 



"I don’t care if it’s lame, I immediately started crying when I got this email #RepresentationMatters," she captioned the tweet. The email was as adorable as it was inspiring. The third-grader said they had found her following some online research. "Dear Ms. Shen," the letter started. "My name is xxxxxx and I am a third-grader at xxxxx xxxxx, Minnesota. I am working on my big year-end project, which is a biography. I wanted to choose someone who is Asian American because I am also Asian American, and I have a passion for marine biology, so I wanted to choose a marine biologist. I did some online research and found your website. I would like to ask if I could interview you via Zoom to ask you about your story, research, and some other questions that I have. I would like to interview you in the next three weeks if that is possible for your schedule," they wrote. "I am copying my teacher, in this email. I hope you will say yes and I look forward to hearing back from you. Thank you and I hope you have a good weekend," they concluded. She said yes to the email. "Said yes so fast!!! And with so many exclamation points!" she wrote.



The tweet went viral immediately, garnering more than 270k likes. One Twitter user wrote, "You’re a hero. My daughter had a female pediatrician, and one summer, we saw a male doctor who was covering for her. As we walked out, my daughter said, 'I didn’t know boys could be doctors, too.' Many of that pediatrician’s girl patients became doctors, my daughter included." Another user replied, "Way back my then 6-year-old wrote to Townsville university, not to drop its paleontology courses as he wanted to be a paleontologist, they sent a lovely letter back. A few years later we met the man who replied who was now a curator at the Brisbane museum. We are still friends."





Recently, a video went viral after a two-year-old son identified with a character from the Disney movie 'Encanto.' As we reported, Kaheisha Brand was watching Disney's 'Encanto' with her two-year-old son, Kenzo when a character that looked just like him came on screen. Kenzo's connection with the character Antonio was almost immediate and he couldn't help smiling. When Kenzo saw that his curly hair and brown skin matched with the character's appearance, he was glued to the TV and followed Antonio's journey keenly. Kenzo thought he was seeing himself onscreen. His mom also shared an image of her son standing beside Antonio, all smiles. She also posted one of Kenzo watching 'himself' on screen. She captioned the Instagram post: "Check Kenzo out in the new Disney Movie 'Encanto' lol."



Brand says she couldn't help but smile seeing her son take to Antonio. "He immediately gravitated towards the image of Antonio," Brand told TODAY Parents. "It just made my heart smile because I do believe that he thought he was seeing himself because of the resemblance between him and Antonio." Brand said his eyes were fixed on the screen and he was smiling throughout. Instances like this are a reminder as to why representation across all fields and in pop culture is important as it helps give wings to the dreams of young kids.

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