Temple Lester: From Chamblee to the White House


CHS student Temple Lester embraces First Lady Jill Biden at a recent White House event. Photo courtesy of @flotus on Instagram

Lauren Cisewski, Editor

Chamblee boasts a long list of successful alumni, but perhaps none quite so successful as early as Temple Lester (‘25). Lester, the founder of a company called Stem Girl Swag, seeks to engage girls and minorities in the world of STEM and engineering through her company, and has appeared on Nickelodeon and “Time’s” Top 50 Kids of the Year list.


“I describe myself as an extrovert who speaks out about things that are important to me,” said Lester.


Lester began her STEM-focused ambitions in just third grade; since then, her content has reached over 100,000 people to stem, according to her website, www.JustTemple.com. Recently, Lester was invited to the White House as part of a recognition of Women’s History Month.


“I think my most important accomplishment is recently being invited to the White House… [it] was surreal,” said Lester. “I had to pinch myself when I was on stage to make sure it was real.”


Prior to her appearance at the Women’s History Month celebration, Lester received the opportunity to meet with some of the nation’s top executives one-on-one. 


“I got a chance to meet with the President, the First Lady and the Vice President prior to the speech and meet with him one-on-one with my parents. It was really an experience that I’ve never thought I would have,” said Lester. “I didn’t imagine even two weeks [before] that I’d be able to have this opportunity because it happened so fast.”


Despite the heights that Lester’s ambition and efforts have propelled her to, her inspiration came from much more humble origins. She cites the experience she had at a STEM camp in elementary school as what originally inspired her to bring other girls into the world of STEM.


“I created my company when I was nine and it was because I went to a summer camp and I was the only girl and one of the few people who looked like me,” said Lester. “[They] started calling me a princess at a science camp. I want to be a scientist. So I began to advocate and stand up for myself and learned that there are other people who go through the same things… [afterward] I just kept on going.”


Although her success may be intimidating for some, Temple’s friends describe her as a kind, humble, and outgoing person. 


“Temple is overall a great person. She’s great at helping women and aspiring people in STEM, but she’s also a very kind person overall,” said Ryan Joshi (‘25), one of Lester’s friends.


In addition to her work in STEM and activism, Lester uses social media to publicize her company, with over 7,000 followers on Instagram at the time of writing. Although her social media activity helps her mission of exposing more women to STEM, she also has to face the challenges of being a public personality. 


“I think one of my challenges is people acting like they know me when they don’t,” said Lester. “It’s because of social media. People know me as good or bad and I don’t really know them… but you just see social media stuff, and I’m not really that awesome.”


Despite these challenges, Lester has managed to find herself a set of loyal friends, and serves to inspire the Chamblee community as a whole through her success and continued efforts.


“Temple and I  have gotten to know each other a lot more this year, since I was the vice president to her president,” said Jonathan Sneh (‘25), the sophomore class vice president. “We worked together a lot in [Student Government Association] affairs… getting to know her has been great. We work together on lots of important things and our characteristics benefit each other well. We do lots of great stuff for the school and working with her has really been a pleasure.”


Regardless of the responsibilities Lester has adopted outside of school, she’s still responsible for the typical activities of a high schooler: including notes, homework, and extracurriculars. While balancing school with travel, meeting with the president, and promoting her company would easily provide challenging for almost anyone else, Lester has created a system to manage these extra responsibilities.


“A lot of what I do doesn’t take up a lot of my time. I may speak somewhere on weekends,” said Lester. “Last week, though, did take up a lot of time because I had to go from DC to Chicago to work and speak. [To save time,], I just do my homework at school… so I don’t have to do it at home.”


While Lester is proud of the success Stem Girl Swag has attained, she still wants to continue expanding and changing her approach to help further womens’ education and involvement in STEM.


“I have some goals [for Stem Girl Swag]. I have boxes of science kits, but I’m over that and I want to move on to the next level,” said Lester. “I want to find things that are more targeted to young adults, but still continue to speak and tell people about the importance of girls and  minorities in STEM and bridging that gap.”


Ultimately, Lester is just like any other high schooler; she also has to tackle the responsibility of deciding what she wants to do in the future. Though her early work has provided her with some clarity and momentum toward success, she still faces uncertainty over her own future. 


“I don’t know [what I want to do] anymore. I’ve had a lot of different thoughts for a while about what I want to do, but I’ll definitely be graduating from college and getting a graduate degree,” said Lester. “I guess I can say that I’m an influencer for philanthropy and advocacy. So I want to continue to do that and get more people to follow my message.”