I spent much of my time in middle school and high school working with kids. I was a camp counselor for a few different camps, coached soccer, volunteered at a local children’s hospital, tutored, worked for a start-up that made science kits for elementary school-age girls, and I was the neighborhood babysitter. Spending time with kids in all capacities was something that I always enjoyed and thought of it as something that I just “did.”
When I entered college, I stopped babysitting because I had moved all the way across the country. I didn’t know any families around the Tufts campus, and I assumed that working with kids was something left for high school. During my freshman year, I participated in various clubs around campus and became really involved in a few of them, but none directly related to children or youth.
The following summer I went back home to Portland, Oregon and started babysitting again to make some more money outside of my internship at the Oregon Health Authority. I didn’t realize how much I had missed it! I caught up with all the parents I had met and told them about my first year in college, and I loved spending time with all the kids that I hadn’t seen in a year. This reminder motivated me to look into new opportunities at Tufts.
During my sophomore year, I applied for STOMP, an organization through Tufts’ Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (that pays!) through which I taught engineering concepts to elementary school students. I quickly developed a further love for teaching and working with kids. I was able to apply my love for science and working with kids into a paid job through Tufts. I taught various curricula all based on building a city as a class, with students utilizing different aspects of engineering for their city. Every week, I went to a local elementary school, either the Healey School or East Somerville Community School. We introduced that week’s activity with an “engineer of the day” and focused on POC and femme identifying engineers to provide the students an image of an actual engineer. My favorite was the biomedical engineering week. The kids were tasked with making wheelchairs for dogs with broken legs. The students loved having a concrete image of how engineering can help others and felt a sense of purpose in their role as engineers. STOMP became a huge part of my life; it was an on-campus job where I worked ten hours per week doing something I loved. It turned into a summer job where I conducted research on engineering education, joining together my academic interests and extracurricular interests.
Now as a senior, I have finally started to babysit again. Tufts has a babysitting page for families in the surrounding community to post on, and I found a family who lives just two blocks off campus. I wish I had recognized earlier the value of my high school interests that were still important to me as a college student. I have found babysitting and working with kids to be a great way to get off-campus and take a break from the homework and studying I always have to do. I’ve learned more about engaging with the surrounding community around Tufts. Spending time with eight-year-olds definitely puts things into perspective. That said, I am a little done playing Fortnite...