As my last day at Pitt’s Community Engagement Center in the Hill District and time as the S.T.E.A.M. Ambassador comes to an end, I reflect on what I have learned and how I have grown, as both a student and as a person, over the past four months.
One of the most fascinating things I observed during my time at the Hill CEC was the natural curiosity of adolescents. I worked with many different age cohorts, from elementary school students to high school seniors. What truly amazed me was that each participant took time out of their Saturday mornings to come to the Hill CEC and to learn about a multitude of S.T.E.A.M.-related concepts (something I know I wouldn’t have done in middle or high school). Children are so quick and eager to engage in novel activities and explore new topics that go beyond the school’s curriculum – an attitude that is difficult to find in many adults. It is for that reason why we – organizations like the Hill CEC and University of Pittsburgh – should continue providing resources like our S.T.E.A.M. Saturday series to foster curiosity and extracurricular learning in the youth.
Furthermore, I have come to realize the importance of community outreach and advertisement is in promoting the programs and opportunities offered by the Hill CEC. Much of my work involved aiding our Outreach Coordinator in creating flyers and other materials to advertise CEC events and community opportunities. Flyer making was one of my favorite parts of being a S.T.E.A.M. Ambassador because it allowed me to express my creative side in a productive and beneficial manner. Additionally, I was able to see first-hand how effective this form of advertisement is in grabbing students’ attention and persuading them to sign up for our S.T.E.A.M. programs. I hope that I will be able to take part in flyer making and community outreach in future positions because it crucial to the research and clinical work in which I plan to take part in the next few years.
Firstly, I have learned to become more of leader due to my position at the Hill CEC. I often had to take control when the students were becoming too rambunctious or were not paying attention when the instructors were talking. Before I began this internship in January, I had difficulty speaking to a large group of people or to those who were in a higher position of authority. And while I still struggle with that to a certain extent, my communication and public speaking skills have greatly improved. I feel more comfortable speaking up during meetings with university partners and striking up conversations with community members that participate in our programs at the Hill CEC. I mostly attribute this comfortability to my amazing supervisors and coworkers who always made me feel welcomed and comfortable while interning at the CEC. My supervisors always encouraged me to engage more with the students and valued my opinions when looking for new ways to improve the Hill CEC.
Secondly, I have realized that I am interested in working with younger demographics (i.e., teenagers and adolescents) when I one day become a clinical psychologist. I originally wanted to provide treatment and therapy to only young adults and teenagers as they were young enough for preventative treatment to be effective but old enough to have and maintain mature, “adult” conversations. However, I have found that young children are fully capable of having mature conversations with adults; it is simply adults who treat them as if they are not capable of doing so. Thus, I should not be afraid to have serious conversations with young children, especially when it comes to their mental health and future well-being.
It may sound cheesy, but my internship at the Pitt’s Community Engagement Center in the Hill District was one of the most amazing and beneficial experiences I have had at Pitt thus far. I have learned so much about our university collaborators at Pitt and Carnegie Mellon who helped the Hill CEC organize and run many of our programs as well as the Hill District community and its residents who devoted so much of their time to participating in our programs. I have come to admire the Hill District’s dedication to creating a brighter future for its youth and the University of Pittsburgh’s commitment to providing resources to ensure that happens. I hope that I will be invited back one day to help in future programming (perhaps one that is psychology related?) and to be a part of this amazing organization once again. I thank everyone for making my time at Pitt’s CEC in the Hill an amazing one and wish all future S.T.E.A.M. Ambassadors good luck!