Junior Engineer, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
VISTA Alum 2014-15 | San Jose State University
I graduated college with the same degree as all my peers, having taken the same classes and with similar work experience – I wanted a unique experience that most engineering students never get to have, something that set me apart from my colleagues.
I served as a VISTA with the San José State University Jay Pinson STEM Education program where I used my engineering background to develop curricula and design lesson plans for local K-12 STEM after-school programs. A few months after my VISTA year came-to-an-end, I interviewed for a job as a civil engineer. They asked me, ‘What’s the one thing that sets you apart from the rest of the qualified applicants?’ My answer was simple: empathy. My year of service as a CSU STEM VISTA opened my eyes to so many things that they can’t teach you in school.
As the VISTA member serving in the Jay Pinson STEM Education Program in the College of Science at San Jose State University, Nina Levine managed the Girls/Youth STEM Network (G/YSN). The G/YSN is a partnership designed to build capacity for San Jose’s youth (8-14 years old) to engage in a rigorous, after school STEM academic enrichment program. During Nina’s year of service, the G/YSN served over 200 students in the various Santa Clara County Elementary and Middle Schools in the areas of electricity and solar energy, computer science and cyber-security, and other physical and life sciences. As part of the G/YSN Programs, students receive 38 hours of instruction over 10 weeks of classroom visits. During Nina’s year of service, over 40 SJSU service-learning students volunteered approximately 50 hours each to spend time in the classrooms as instructors and mentors.