I’m a scientist, engineer, and emerging leader and I need your help tackling two major global sustainability challenges: gender inequity and climate change.
I've joined a select group of women from around the globe forming #TeamHB6, the 6th cohort of the Homeward Bound leadership program voyaging to Antarctica in 2023! With your support, I’ll participate in an incredible network of leaders across STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine) collaborating to empower underrepresented genders and build a more sustainable future.
Caring for our environment is everyone’s responsibility, but to do this effectively we need diverse representation among our leaders. Without the voices, experience, and vision of all genders, we are missing major insight into problem-solving and decision-making for a healthier planet. Together, we can work toward real change that has a lasting impact on our present and future!
About Homeward Bound
Homeward Bound ’s mission is to build a collaborative global network of 10,000 women leaders in STEMM by 2036. It was first launched in 2016 with the largest-ever all-female expedition to Antarctica! This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity provides a powerful platform for underrepresented genders organising for change.
Current participants and alumnae hail from diverse walks of life, STEMM backgrounds, and stages of their careers. Together, we are striving to increase the influence of underrepresented genders in STEMM and advocate for sustainable policies and practices that will create a positive impact on our environment and communities.
Read more about Homeward Bound's strategy and goals here .
Check out Homeward Bound in the media here .
The word 'Antarctica' calls to mind a variety of things: the cold, a sense of isolation, mystery, surreal landscapes, and of course, penguins! With respect to environmental science, however, Antarctica is far from isolated—it is one of the most vulnerable regions on the planet, exhibiting a rapid response to climate change. By visiting this region, #TeamHB6 will gain first-hand experience of the impacts of human-induced climate change and an invaluable opportunity to be inspired and mobilise for sustainable action.
I'm an academic, artist, advocate, and adventurer from Tio'tia:ke (Montréal), Canada. I majored in Biochemistry and Chemical Engineering, earning my doctorate in the field of regenerative medicine in 2022.
I'm passionate about the convergence of STEMM and social justice. I am currently a manager, strategist, and advisor on social equity, diversity, and inclusivity (EDI) for McGill University's Faculty of Engineering. Throughout my academic career, I've advocated for increased awareness and action toward mental health, accessibility, and intersectionality in Higher Education. Notably, I founded GEEC , an award -winning organisation of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows dedicated to advancing EDI initiatives in Engineering.
I’m thrilled at this amazing opportunity to expand my knowledge of climate issues with #TeamHB6 and develop tools for becoming a more responsible scientist, engineer, mentor, and leader. I'm particularly eager to apply what I learn to empower racialised, queer, and disabled folx in STEMM; to increase our visibility and to validate non-traditional leadership styles. My goal is to return from Antarctica with a stronger vision and resources to effectively advocate for standards, policies, and processes that centre intersectionality and inclusion as key elements of global sustainability.
Connect with me on LinkedIn @stephanieafernandez
Follow my journey with #TeamHB6 on my website and blog ! I’ll be posting updates, photographs, artwork, and digital thank-you messages to all donors!
GEEC Interview : Q&A with GEEC's Founder & Outgoing Director (Sep 2020)
McGill Reporter Interview : Award for Equity & Community Building (Apr 2020)
McGill Engineering Interview : E-IDEA: Furthering the Transformation of Our Culture (Nov 2022)
What’s the Homeward Bound Program Like?
The Homeward Bound program is led by a team of expert faculty and staff and comprises both virtual and in-person training culminating in a sea voyage to Antarctica. Virtual training runs for 11+ months and consists of online tools that allow us to learn more about global sustainability, delve into collaborations, and explore and develop our own unique brand of leadership.
Following this, we’ll spend about 3 weeks engaging in in-person training in Ushuaia, Argentina and on-board the ship to Antarctica. Against this incredible landscape, we’ll have the chance to form strong bonds and explore our paths forward, both as individuals and as a community. Although the formal program ends after one year, Homeward Bound alumnae continue to collaborate and carry out strategies for advancing our shared vision of a more equitable and sustainable future.
How You Will Be Supporting Me
As an early-career member of #TeamHB6, I am asking for your support through funding and visibility! By participating in Homeward Bound, I will advance my personal and professional development in four major streams: leadership, visibility, strategy, and science. You can read more about each of these streams here .
Beyond my individual development, I’m excited to create opportunities to share what I learn through Homeward Bound and empower others with the tools and support they need to amplify their voices in STEMM! As the #TeamHB6 journey unfolds, I will post updates, resources, photographs, and artwork on my website . Upon my return from Antarctica, I will continue to collaborate with my HB6 teammates and other alumnae on sustainability initiatives. I am especially motivated to lead initiatives that will uplift racialised women through increased visibility and resources.
About half of the Homeward Bound program cost is subsidised, while the remaining cost of USD 17,500 per person (+ additional expenses) is covered by the participants. This breakdown is described in detail below.
Stage 1: Online Program (USD 5,260)
-Eleven months of virtual programming delivered by expert faculty over the period of March 1, 2021-February 28, 2022.
-Monthly content in the form of Zoom calls, masterclasses, one-on-one coaching, diagnostic tools (Life Styles Inventory™, 4MAT), and regional meetups.
-Opportunities to collaborate with fellow participants on global sustainability projects.
Stage 2: In-Person Intensive Program (USD 12,240)
-Three-week intensive program in Ushuaia, Argentina and Antarctica in November 2023, including continued progress along the program's core streams and collaboration goals.
-Education and first-hand experience of the Antarctic environment and sustainability challenges.
Additional Expenses (USD 5,000-7,000)
-Round-trip travel between Canada and Argentina, airport transfers, and other travel fees.
-Cold-weather gear for the Antarctic expedition.
-Voyage carbon offsetting.
Total Cost = USD 24,500 (~CAD 32,000)
Any amount you are able to contribute is appreciated AND there are some awesome perks listed below! The funds will be used to cover the program and travel costs described above. Any unused amount will be donated to the Homeward Bound Scholarship Fund to help support future participants, particularly those hailing from developing countries most affected by climate change.
If you are not able to contribute funds, you can support me by sharing this page! Social media, email, word of mouth—any increased visibility is a great help!
All the penguins your heart desires! Amounts are listed in Canadian Dollars (CAD).
$10 – Penguin button (featuring original artwork) + digital thank you (on my website)
$25 – Photo of a penguin taken in Antarctica + personalised thank you + digital thank you
$50 – Penguin mug (featuring original artwork) + personalised thank you + digital thank you
$100 – Custom Antarctica calendar + personalised thank you + digital thank you
$500 – Speaker seminar about my #TeamHB6 experience upon my return from Antarctica
$1000 – Corporate sponsorship (details to be communicated)
With your engagement, we can make real strides toward increasing the presence and impact of underrepresented genders in STEMM leading for the greater good. I can't wait to share my journey with you!