Hi, my name is Rita and I am both an alumna of and a volunteer at Saturday Academy. I am a recent college graduate from Duke University with a BS in chemistry and a minor in psychology. I just returned to my hometown of Portland to focus on my medical school applications and work part-time as a medical scribe in a pediatric clinic. I spend my days off volunteering at Saturday Academy or brushing up on my science knowledge for the MCAT. As soon as Mt. Hood opens up for ski season, you will find me spending my weekends there!
When I moved back to Portland, I was looking for ways to stay involved with my community through volunteering. I spent an evening while still in North Carolina perusing volunteer boards and saw a posting by Saturday Academy. That name seemed so familiar, but I could not quite place where I knew it from. Did I know someone who had volunteered there previously? And then I realized, I had attended several Saturday Academy classes 10 years prior during middle school! The two I remember the most are a Lego Robotics course and a 3D animation and modeling class where we were able to use Maya, an industry standard 3D animation program. What I loved most was being able to explore areas I otherwise would not have had much exposure to. My school at the time did not offer any similar classes and basic Lego robotics kits cost around $300 – don’t even get me started on the individual licensing fees for Maya! Saturday Academy provided me with the resources and freedom to explore entirely new worlds with passionate and knowledgeable instructors. That’s why I decided to return as a volunteer – I knew first-hand the positive impact Saturday Academy classes could have on a curious mind.
I have spent the last month and a half volunteering at the office and assisting with tasks that would otherwise overwhelm the extremely busy office staff. Every volunteer day is different, which is part of what makes me excited to come in and help. I have worked extensively with the ASE (Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering) program staff to facilitate preparations for their mid-summer conference and symposium, where program participants are able to share their internship research progress with one another and their mentors. Some tasks included preparing folders, printing off (and peeling!) hundreds of nametags, and inventory. I have also completed database entry for various other departments and prepared materials urgently needed for upcoming summer classes. I worked just last week with Saturday Academy’s executive director, Jeri Janowsky, to help prepare and mail out several documents. I have had the opportunity to chaperone events as well, but my work schedule has not allowed for it (yet!). Everyone at the office has been more than welcoming and they are always thankful for my work. While the tasks themselves aren’t always particularly complicated, they have to be done and office staff are so grateful – it’s a wonderful feeling to leave at the end of each volunteer shift knowing you contributed to such a fantastic organization. The work you do never goes unnoticed! I am hoping to offer my skills as an instructor or ASE mentor one day.