Brittany Bishop – STEM Super Youth Advocate: King County
Growing up, I was always a curious child. When I was in first grade, I remember finding my older brother’s build-your-own radio kit stashed away in the back of a closet. Assuming my brother had long forgotten about it, I decided the toy would now be mine. That day, I spent the afternoon taking apart the whole kit and putting it back together on my own. After a lot of tinkering, I was pretty pleased with myself. The radio still played music and, surprisingly, I didn’t completely break it. I was shocked at how successful I had actually been. From then on, I continued to search for old electronics around the house so that I could take them apart and figure out exactly how they worked.
As I got older, my interest in science continued to grow. I was constantly excited by the world around me, going outside to learn about nature, creating science kits at home, and diving into my science classes head-on. In tenth grade, I knew I was going to continue into science after taking honors chemistry. One day after an insightful lesson in class, I came home from school and couldn’t stop talking about how cool soap was. According to my parents, I talked about soap for an entire week! While silly to imagine a 15-year-old excited by such a simple thing as soap, that experience showed me just how enthusiastic about science I could be. I began to understand the scope and importance of science and that science existed all around me. The more I dived into this world, the more I knew I wanted science to be a part of my future career.
Once I got to college, I became excited by the materials and opportunities around me. I was enthusiastic with my classes, but I wanted to do more. I began teaching my peers and doing hands-on research through my department. I was excited about mentoring other students and conducting research, so I thought, “Of course, I should be a professor!” However, once I moved to the University of Washington for graduate school, my views completely changed. I noticed my peers were engaged in much more than just academics or industry. The students and faculty around me were interested in entrepreneurship, social justice, and policy. In particular, it was the science policy work that really stood out to me.
I began getting more involved on campus and got opportunities to speak to legislators, advocate for students, and communicate science to the public. The more I talked about science outside of the lab, the more I realized I could use my knowledge, as a scientist and as a student, to make a difference in society. Science did not have to be confined to the lab or the classroom. I knew I could also impact people by integrating science into making better laws and policies, teaching the public about exciting new topics, and working with students to improve their knowledge of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).
With this realization, I became passionate not only about science policy but communicating science to the public as a whole. This excitement convinced me to take on new leadership opportunities at the University of Washington, where I currently work with the Clean Energy Institute to organize K-12 outreach and inspire students all across Washington state. I also work with the Graduate and Professional Student Senate to assist in student lobbying efforts and help organize science policy opportunities across campus. As I move forward with this passion and in my future career, I intend to continue this path of science communication and engagement, working with students, engaging with the public, and sharing science with the world. That’s why I’m a STEM Super Youth Advocate.
The STEM Super Advocate Blog series highlights young STEM champions from across Washington. These young people have chosen to team up with Washington STEM as we collectively advocate for high quality STEM education, career connected learning, the Next Generation Science Standards and clear STEM pathways for every student in Washington. Every month, we’ll introduce you to four Super Advocates who are working to bringing about change in their community. This work is supported by College Spark Washington.