Kaylee Zilinger

Northwestern University
Class of 2024

Tackling minority underrepresentation in STEM by ensuring equitable education in diverse communities.

After her family experienced a devastating house fire, Kaylee found solace at school. Encouragement from teachers and her dedication to her classes taught Kaylee how to cope with uncertainty and adversity. A descendent of Mexican and Polish heritage, she developed a love of foreign languages. Thanks to a scholarship award, Kaylee had the opportunity to study abroad in Shanghai leading to her decision to double major in Chinese and Biology.

While interning at a Northwestern research lab for two summers, she noticed a lack of Latino scientists. In response, Kaylee founded the We Matter STEM initiative to start STEM clubs in predominantly low-income and minority communities. She plans to continue this work throughout her life and start her own nonprofit organization. Kaylee says ā€œNothing makes me happier than seeing my students grow to find the scientists within themselves.ā€ Her passion for STEM is further fueled by the experience of her family and community with healthcare. Kaylee hopes to become a doctor to improve health outcomes and eliminate health disparities among Latinos.


  • Founder, We Matter STEM Initiative
  • Chapter Leader, Amnesty International
  • Head Mentor, Primos Mentoring Program