Katherine Yuko Fry, STEM Super Youth Advocate: Skagit
Growing up, my first exposure to science was in 4th grade when I would go with my dad to his workplace where he was a laboratory researcher who studied cancer and cell biology. While this early experience with science was incredibly enjoyable for me as a child, I found that becoming invested in the field was incredibly hard given my relationship with science in school. As I participated in science through out K-12, I was often told that I was struggling due to not trying hard enough. Or worse, that science was not the path that I should pursue. Little did I know that it was not my inability to learn, but rather the way that it was being presented to me.
In need of service hours for high school, I signed up for a volunteer teen program at Woodland Park Zoo called ZooCorps. With very little knowledge of conservation and the science of the natural world, I was incredibly nervous going into this program. However, those nerves shortly disappeared as I realized that this was soon to become my “home away from home” and future career path. As I progressed in the program I became knowledgeable of conservation, and issues around the world through hands on experiences, and teaching others of these topics. The interest that I developed in conservation and the natural world truly helped steer me towards my future academic goals.
Coming into Western Washington University, I dived immediately into the Environmental Science department, to pursue a degree concentrated in Terrestrial and Freshwater Ecology. While pursuing the pre-major classes, I slowly came to realize that this major was not the best fit for me. Upon taking an anthropology and sociology class, I realized that I was passionate about the human experience and that I wanted to somehow incorporate that into my undergraduate major. This lead to me to find my current major, Geography. While incorporating science like biogeography and climatology, I am still able to pursue my interests in the human experience and how that corresponds with nature. I am looking forward to this coming year as I will be taking more ecology and data analysis classes.
Life is not a direct path and it can have many ups and downs. I hope that by sharing my story, I can encourage people to take chances and not be afraid when the first option doesn’t work out entirely as planned. That’s why I’m a STEM Super Youth Advocate.