2006 College graduate Rachel Senturia is on a mission to make science cool.
In early 2012, Senturia founded STEMsocks, a company that produces unisex science-themed socks for adults. Designs include everything from electrocardiogram socks to DNA socks to even bacterium socks.
A biochemistry major , Senturia said she wanted to get other people as excited about science as she was. “I felt like I was learning all of this really interesting stuff, but so many people didn’t really know what I was learning and didn’t know what I was talking about,” she said. “I really wanted to make science more accessible for people.”
With that mindset, she launched STEMsocks.
Although Senturia wasn’t a Wharton student, she found other ways to nurture her entrepreneurial spirit while at Penn. She was the captain of the club water polo team for two years, an experience which she said taught her about leadership and how to build a more rigorous, unified team. Under Senturia’s guidance, the team went to the Nationals meet twice.
“Penn was also the place where my scientific passion really developed,” Senturia said. She added that her freshman chemistry class with professor Andrew Rappe and physical chemistry with professor Michael Topp particularly nurtured her love for science and helped her engage with like-minded peers.
“I made a lot of friends who were scientists and realized that scientists come in a lot of different flavors instead of what’s normally presented in stereotypes in the media,” she said. “There was definitely a desire to combat the stereotype of scientists being these frumpy, awkward, generally uncool people.”
2006 College graduate Alyssa Zackler, who played club water polo with Senturia at Penn, is an avid consumer of STEMsocks today.
“Science does tend to have sort of a nerdy stereotype, but I think bringing it into public life and giving it that visual cue makes it more public and more acceptable,” Zackler said. An obstetrics and gynecology resident at Temple University, Zackler said she likes to wear the socks with her scrubs, as it is one of the few ways she can individualize her style at work.
Though he is not directly involved in the business, 2006 Wharton graduate Michael Brozman also supports STEMsocks. Brozman first met Senturia during their freshman year, when they both lived in Stouffer College House. With a concentration in both Finance and Insurance and Risk Management, Brozman sometimes offers advice in product positioning and pricing for STEMsocks.
In the future, Senturia said she hopes to grow STEMsocks by diversifying the product line and increasing its accessibility. The company also donates a portion of its sales to a nonprofit in California that increases STEM education for K-12 students.
Although Senturia didn’t enter Penn with the intention of starting a business, this did not deter her from following her passions later on.
“Don’t be influenced by what you see around you — even if your peers may be going into high-paying, Wall Street jobs, that shouldn’t deter you from going the route that you want to go,” she said.
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