How has everyone been? Good, I suppose? I hope so. Anyway, since it is Latino History Month, I figure I take the time to talk about a Latina in STEAM from about a century ago. Can you guess who I am going to talk about? It is Ynes Mexia! ( You all cheated because you looked at the blog title.)
Ynes Enriquetta Julietta Mexia was a Mexican American botanist born in the United States and spent her older years traveling across Alaska, Mexico, and South America collecting plant specimens. She was born in Washington D.C in 1870, but after her parents divorced moved to Texas. In 1897 she moved to Mexico to be with her father and married a man named Herman Lane. Shortly afterwards, however, both her father and husband die. In 1908 she marries again and the following year moves to San Francisco. However, she divorces her husband shortly after. By 1920 Ynes joins the Sierra Club and the following year she enrolls at UC Berkeley as a special student in natural sciences. In 1922, she goes on a collection expedition in Mexico with Professor Eustace Furlon. Ynes would go on another collecting trip in 1925, where she fell off a cliff and broke her hand and her ribs, but walked it off. During this trip, she collected 500 specimens and discovered 50 new species. And for the next 13 years she would go throughout the Americas collecting and discovering new species, and even having a few named after her. Ynes would also joined the expeditions of other scientist on occasion. In 1929, she traveled the Amazon River by canoe, and two and a half years later she reached the source of the river in the Andes. In 1938, she was diagnosis with lung cancer and died the same year.
During that 1925 trip, Ynes said she had found her purpose in life, saying "I have a job, where I produce something real and lasting". It is inspiring to read about her. Not just because of the fact that she was able to do those trips in her late age, although that is worth celebrating. But because of her early life as well. After her parents separated, Ynes went to boarding school where she felt alone and isolated. And in 1909, after her divorce from her second husband, she had a mental breakdown. Her psychiatrist, Dr. Philip Brown, had encourage Ynes to join the Sierra Club. Some people did say that she was a temperamental person to work with, but that could be because of racism. Yes, years ago a stereotype of Latinos was that they were temperamental. After all of those set backs, she would go on and do those amazing things is incredible.
Ynes should serve as an inspiration for everyone. Regardless of age or race, we should all fell inspired to do something cool, like survive falling down a cliff and continuing your expedition. Now, she is one of my heroes.
Latino Natural History, Retrieved on September 16, 2020, Ynes Mexia | Latino Natural History
JSTOR, Retrieved on September 15, 2020, https://plants.jstor.org/stable/10.5555/al.ap.person.bm000033443
UNLADYLIKE 2020, Retrieved on September 16, 2020, Ynés Mexía - UNLADYLIKE2020
Early Women in Science, Retrieved on September 17, 2020, Ynes Enriquetta Julietta Mexia | Early Women in Science