Emma Zucati, STEM Super Youth Advocate: King County
I have always had a passion for learning. By the time I was eight, I was hiding under the covers past my bedtime and reading whatever book I had brought home from school that day. Every summer, I would make my mom buy the summer math work books at the nearest Costco so that I could practice my multiplication on long car rides. Before I left elementary school, my favorite subject was math and I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. I love pushing myself to learn more every day and it wasn’t until high school that I really felt like I got my opportunity to soar.
My parents were very supportive of my education and encouraged me to pursue the classes I wanted. I took all the advanced classes offered in middle school and took as many Advanced Placement classes as was realistic in high school. Even then, my extracurriculars were theater and the occasional sport. I loved what I was doing and it made me the person I am today, but it never really indulged my love of academia. At the beginning of my sophomore year, however, my friend invited me to a meeting she was going to after school for robotics. There, I found my love for FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology); a robotics organization that has programs for students ages 9-18. Here, I was able to see hands on proof of what my knowledge and love of STEM can actually do. I jumped in wholeheartedly and have been devoted ever since.
By my senior year of high school, I was mentoring two middle school FIRST teams and hosting six FIRST competitions with my lead robotics mentor at my high school. I was also in my second year of computer science and planning on majoring in it as soon as I got to college. At the end of one of the last competitions I hosted, I was feeling a bit melancholy at the thought of not getting to replicate this experience ever again when a parent on my team came up to me and asked me if I had ever considered a future in project management. I had only vaguely heard of this position before but when I looked into it, I discovered this was exactly the role I was looking for in my future.
I am currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science with a minor in Business Administration at Seattle University. I am the secretary of the ACM (Association of Computer Machinery) student chapter at my college and am planning the hackathon to take place this upcoming winter quarter. Looking back on my public education, I can say without a doubt that the AP Computer Science and Calculus classes made available to me as well as the FIRST robotics club led me to where I am today. I applied for the STEM Super Youth Advocate position because I find myself being an advocate for STEM already in my daily life. I encourage people to pursue the academia they love in whatever ways possible and the opportunity to continue this in a more official position is not one I take for granted. That’s why I’m a STEM Super Youth Advocate.