What is the most important thing you’ve learned after four summers with Galileo?

Everyone knows that camp is supposed to be fun. What I learned after spending four summers with Galileo—especially the last as a Nebula [preK-K] Science Instructor—is that there is so much more to fun than we usually give it credit for. To have fun, you must first feel comfortable and safe. You also need to find some sort of value in what you’re doing, and it helps to feel supported by and connected to those around you too. At Camp G, we don’t just commit to creating that kind of environment for our campers; camp staff make the same commitment to ourselves and to each other. These commitments, plus a little bit of camp magic, end up creating an entire culture built on acceptance, community, and fun.

Do you consider yourself a naturally “silly” person at work?

Good question. Facilitating science curriculum for a classroom full of pre-K youngsters requires, among many things, energy, patience, flexibility, and a healthy propensity for creating joy-filled spaces. As a Galilean, I was also inspired to embrace my inner silliness in a classroom setting for the first time and, alongside fellow staff members, learned to let go of inhibitions that would have otherwise held me back. Plus, I was able to do this in ways that still felt natural and authentic to me. I didn’t know it then, but I’ve realized since that what I leaned into and developed in myself that summer was a willingness to be vulnerable. Without that vulnerability I never would have discovered the joy—and effectiveness—of “Captain Audrey”, my camp alter-ego!

Where are you currently on your professional path?

For the past three years I have been working for a college access non-profit in the Chicago area whose mission is to support high-achieving and underrepresented students throughout high school and to equip them to get into and succeed at highly selective colleges and beyond. Yeah, it’s always a mouthful! The core of the work that I do involves directly supporting students in our program through individual meetings as well as group-based programming.

How has your time with Galileo influenced your approach in this work?

Admittedly, it’s a bit tougher to embrace your inner silliness in front of a slightly skeptical teenage audience but, believe it or not, plenty of the skills I honed in my Galileo classroom are serving me now! Because of my experience at Galileo, I am able to convey the importance of being open to others and to oneself by modeling vulnerability for my students, whether through moments of teenager-approved silliness, or admitting when I don’t know the answer to a question. Both professionally and personally, my approach to problem solving has become more calm, creative, and open—thanks in no small part to my four summers with Camp G. On an organizational level, I’ve noticed that many of the projects I have taken on and gotten excited about have involved developing new ideas and innovating systems or processes.

What’s next?

Clearly, my Galileo experience continues to follow me wherever I go, and because of that I will never stop encouraging my students and others around me to embrace and share their own ideas, to innovate wherever they go and —of course—to have fun while doing it.