Tell us about your work / research. What kinds of things do you do?
I am the ScienceCast Coordinator for the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas. I coordinate all distance learning and virtual learning programs for the museum. I organize, prepare and produce a variety of programs on a monthly basis that broadcast to multiple institutes and schools throughout North America. I showcase the multiple STEM careers by bringing in local , national ,and international experts. I coordinate with regional school districts, and national scientific institutes to plan and implement our programs to best fit the needs of our community.
What sparked your initial interest in your career?
I have worked in the public health field, occupational research and as a AVID tutor. What I have done it picked what I have liked from my schooling, previous jobs , and personal interest to search for a job that covers all these bases. I have a strong background in educational outreach, science communications, and reaching out to underrepresented communities. During this search I worked as a AVID tutor ,and a part time educator for the museum. Though I never wanted to be a educator, there was just something about informal education that I couldn't run away from. Further along , I became passionate about my students success, and about providing an engaging programs at the museum. When the ScienceCast position opened up I decided to apply and try get my foot in the door . The more I heard about the program, and working with the museum educators , the more the position became appealing. Other positions have opened up at the museum, but again I couldn't see myself anywhere else.
Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?
I come from a family of highly effective educators. Ranging from special education, advanced placement classes, to merely intellects sharing their experience and conversation with others. My father( previous army chemical engineer) even volunteered his math skills to my middle school while he was recovering from a illness.Though at the time having him at my school wasn't necessarily "cool", his dedication to help others really stuck with me. My father turned out to be a really successful mentor to his students. Same with my mother who is an ABA, and teaches a self contained classroom for students with Autism. I personally have had teachers who have impacted me , which may be another underlying reason I can't escape the educational field. I find a lot of inspiration reading other women's stories, not necessarily educators, but the tenacity of the everyday modern woman. There are a lot of famous leaders out there, but I really find the vulnerable writings and articles from the civilians more attainable and just as valuable. All in all ,it's the everyday interactions with people who do the best they can to help the future generations that influence me to the best I can wherever I am.
What element of your work / study do you think is the most fascinating?
I like the 'silent' conversational part during our interactions with schools. During a program we will open it up for questions and each school has a chance to ask a few questions during the first round, and we'll loop back around again. The increase of questions and the increase in quality of the questions is something that look forward to during each program. Usually we have questions that ask us to reiterate the information stated in our program(due to communication issues), but every now and then we get really great in depth questions. A question that expands above and beyond the program curriculum, the one that stumps the educators and encourages us to seek the information further. These questions also help build my programs , so that each time we get a great question I can edit and increase the quality of my future programs.
What other jobs led you to your current career?
I have previously been a researcher for the Texas Department of Transportation, a public health intern for the Nieces County Public Health Department, I also was a AVID tutor ,and part time educator for the museum where I am currently working.
What are your degrees and certifications?
Bachelors of Science in Health Sciences- Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi 2013; Masters Certification in Public Health- University of North Texas 2016; Professional Rescuer Certification-American Red Cross 2013
What are your hobbies?
I really enjoy hiking, backpacking, exploring new cities, museums (any and all), walking, interacting with my pets (two Great Pyrenees mixes, Ellie and Frances), insect pinning, nature photography and cinematography, and reading. I also collect vinyl records and enjoy a vegetarian diet.
What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?
All I can really say is advocate for yourself, be able to apply whatever experience you have to your desired career, be willing to go the extra mile knowing that you will not be reimbursed, and always continue to learn(avoid being stagnant) .
How did you get involved in the Nautilus Exploration Exploration? How did you get on the ship?
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science was donated the allotted funds to launch a Community STEM Program in Dallas using distance learning programs during the 2015-2017 school years. I thoroughly enjoyed facilitating the program during the summer sessions at the museum and was impressed by the interaction between the program and our guests. Each week there was a climb in the number of questions, and the quality of the questions asked by the museum visitors/students. This type of deep interaction during a short program is what I want to achieve in my ScienceCast programming. I applied for the Science Communication Fellowship to not only learn the daily interactions and technology used to produce a program, but how different educators engage students in distance learning programs.