Q&A with Katie Schott, Program Coordinator
Washington STEM is thrilled to have Katie Schott join our team as the new Program Coordinator. We sat down with Katie to learn a bit more about her, why she joined Washington STEM, and how she came to care so deeply about STEM education.
Q. Why did you decide to join Washington STEM?
During the pandemic, many people made big changes in their lives or decided to switch up what they were doing as a career. I too had a lot of time to reflect on my career path and where I wanted to go in the future. Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to shift the focus of my career towards formal education.
I’d been working in informal education settings for about seven years. At the time, I was working at an aquarium, and I knew that I was helping to inspire kids and spark curiosity. But I couldn’t really see the impact that I was having beyond that. I wanted to join an organization that supported students beyond the “science is cool” phase– an organization that supported kids through their entire educational journey. From developing an early passion for science, to understanding how they could use their STEM education in the future, and finally to helping them to step onto pathways to STEM careers.
I was thrilled to find an organization like Washington STEM which does exactly that, and I was very lucky to be able to join the Washington STEM staff.
Q. What do equity in STEM education and career mean to you?
For me, equity in STEM education and careers means that every person, regardless of their background, has the opportunity and the means to achieve their dreams. Beyond that, it also means that everyone in our community who can make changes, works together towards identifying, understanding, and removing barriers that have negatively impacted students, especially students that have been historically excluded from STEM spaces. A big part of the process of rebuilding our educational systems is not only identifying that there is an issue, but also understanding why these barriers exist and how they impact students.
Q. Why did you choose your career?
I’m still fairly early in my career journey, and any path is always evolving and really has no end point. My personal journey thus far has led me to several different jobs, but the common theme for all of those jobs has been education. For a while, I worked in higher education, then informal education, and for a bit I was on the path towards becoming a teacher. Having education as an anchor in my path has been comforting because I know that I’m rooting myself in one of my passions. There are so many career paths, beyond teaching, that will allow me to be involved in education and have a real impact on others. So, I’m thrilled to have found somewhere like Washington STEM, where I can make an impact towards changing education systems.
Q. Can you tell us more about your education/career path?
When I graduated from high school, I thought that I wanted to be a research scientist. I thought I would love working in a lab, but after working in a lab during college, I decided it wasn’t for me, I didn’t like staring a microscope all day! So, I started looking at my other passions and I found that my interests revolved around working with other people and building relationships and connections. That’s how I shifted into a career focused on education. I still love science and I’m still a huge nerd, but service brings me real joy.
Q. What inspires you?
This probably sounds corny, but honestly, scientific innovation really inspires me. There are so many amazing and creative ideas that people have come up with to solve some of our biggest problems (or they are just trying to solve for something that they think is cool) and you never know where those discoveries or innovations are going to lead. It’s inspiring that that people are trying to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges and problems – pushing the limits of our understanding of science forward and making new, bigger, and better discoveries.
Q. What are some of your favorite things about Washington state?
I grew up in Colorado but moved out here to experience something different after college. I had only ever lived in Colorado, so I wanted to get out and explore. When I visited Washington, it was such a cool place! I love the proximity to the water and the huge variety of different ecosystems and environments that you can explore, from rainforests to deserts, it’s wonderful!
Q. What’s one thing about you people can’t find through the internet?
My first job in high school was teaching kids between the ages of four and 13 how to golf. It’s an interesting experience to give a four-year-old a golf club and to make sure that no one gets injured. I participated in the program as a kid and then I started working there when I was in high school. It was it was a fun experience, though I don’t know that I would go back to four-year-olds and golf clubs. I don’t golf as much now, but I’ve been thinking about taking my clubs down to the driving range.