What CSEP programs were you involved in?
I first started working for Wendy as a graduate student as a coordinator for LEAPS.
What was your role in LEAPS?
I coordinated after school activities for junior high and elementary schools and worked with undergraduates to come up with activities each week. I trained the undergraduates to go teach the activities themselves. My goal was for them to learn to teach themselves and learn how to talk to kids about science.
What did you study in graduate school?
As an undergraduate I fell in love with the study of light. I studied photonics, which are basically the same thing as electronics, but you use light.
How did you get involved in teaching for LEAPS?
I've always enjoyed teaching, and I used to teach SAT classes. I found that many people use things that require photonics all the time, like email, and making my research accessible to everyone by breaking down such a complicated topic really motivated me to get into teaching young students about science.
What is your future plan?
To keep teaching science and engineering concepts in some way—I homeschool my son and assist other homeschooling groups with the sciences, so to be able to continue that would be great. One of my dreams is to teach in India so I can encourage the students’ creativity.
What was the most rewarding part of teaching?
I loved making a teaching activity, then having undergraduates and graduate students learn that activity, then them teaching the activity in their own way. It was so rewarding to see them getting excited about science and teaching it with their own flair. It was great to develop an activity that takes a life of its own. I also always thought it was fun to see students have their “aha!” moment after they’ve been struggling through a difficult concept.
How did your experience in the CSEP programs prepare you for your current position?
I learned you want to be surrounded by different people who have different skill sets and are good at different things from you. My teaching also prepared me to be a good leader in my current position.
Any wisdom you would like to impart on aspiring graduate students in the sciences?
In grad school, you’re surrounded by people who think the same as you, and it can be easy to think that it’s the best or only way to think. It’s really important not to lose value for people who think differently from you.
What do you like to do for fun?
I love to sail.