My name is Maddox Zhang and I’m the Saturday Academy (SA) winter “extern.” I’m spending two weeks learning about the inner workings of SA and supporting staff members on projects. Originally from Connecticut, I’m a sophomore biochemistry major at Reed College with a deep ardor for social justice. In my free time, I love watching nature documentaries and getting out to explore Portland’s lively and ever-changing food, art and fashion scenes. Although I honestly have no idea where I may end up in the future, I’m thinking about going into nonprofit work. SA is the perfect intersection to bridge together two potential career paths for me: community engagement and STEM.
I remember the all-too-familiar frustration I felt as a child in my classes that stifled creativity and restricted my learning to rote, standardized questions and answers. Because of that experience, working with SA feels like what I’m doing has a special, personalized value to it. The staff here is incredibly welcoming and patient. Best of all, I get to do more than just get everyone coffees and fix the printer. In fact, I do none of that! The resources and experiences with the behind-the-scenes of SA I’ve received is foundational and indispensable. As a result of this experience, I hope to enact positive change more effectively in my local communities and beyond. Everyday entails a meeting with a different department including finance, communications, operations or specific programs like:
Experienced department or program heads run me through the nuts and bolts of what they do and give me a task that lets me taste their contribution to the SA pie. I also really appreciate that those who lead and design projects here are largely women. That representation, especially in a political atmosphere like our current one, can’t fly under the radar.
If I ever head my own nonprofit, I’d strive to make my work environment as supportive, fun and efficient as SA’s is. Find out more about how you can support SA and help to provide hands-on, in-depth programming for all interested students in STEM fields.