Brite-ening Career Horizons

Contributed by Bella Shuler

My STEM Dream Art Piece by Abby AOne of the biggest questions that any high school student or near college student faces is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” For some, that is a simple question to answer, but for the majority, it is not. One of the challenges that come with this question is that most students don’t even know what jobs may be out there for them to consider. Students may have an idea of what field they would like to pursue but aren’t aware of the specific possibilities. That is where programs like BRITE are so influential in bringing to light these career paths that students may have never considered before. 

Our Brite group consists of alum campers from the University of South Florida, Oceanography Camp for Girls. Alum campers are girls that have completed camp at OCG the summer before their freshman year of high school. The alum that joined us for Brite this summer are in their later years of high school and ranged from 15-17 years old. These girls fit right in with those students who are in the process of learning about colleges, touring colleges, and deciding on what they want to study. All of our Brite girls were interested in some form of STEM and joined Brite to learn more about STEM, but specifically wanted to learn about what career opportunities were out there that they could be interested in. 

My STEM Dream Collage by Arriana S

We had a small group this summer that consisted of alum OCG campers that were following along on their computers at home, and several current OCG peer counselors that would attend the BriteTalks with me at camp. Although we had a small group, they had big ideas and questions. The group really enjoyed looking at the websites or watching videos from the speakers that we would soon hear from that day and then discussing as a group what they would be interested in asking the speaker. 

The questions that the group brainstormed typically were centered around the speaker’s career currently and what she endured to get to where she is now. Although it does seem bleak, the girls knew that each speaker had probably gone through some troubles at some point to get to where they are now, especially as women in STEM. The girls were not discouraged by the answers to these questions, however, but instead inspired to see where these women had come from and how they had persevered through it all. 

My STEM Dream Collage by Gaby HBesides being inspired by one’s journey, Brite allowed our group an opportunity to hear about unique careers from unique women. Some of these careers neither myself nor the group had heard about before and we enjoyed talking about them and looking things up together before hearing from the speaker. The day after each BriteTalk we would discuss our favorite part of the BriteTalk or share something that surprised us. A lot of the time the girls would bring up the challenges the speaker faced, or how interesting their career was.

Overall, Brite gave Oceanography Camp for Girls a platform to inspect new careers and be inspired by careers that women were creating. The Brite girls, and other groups who were a part of Brite, walked away from this summer experience with new knowledge about STEM itself, but also with a helping hand in answering that question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Some of our girls have very specific ideas, such as Gaby H who wants to work in the space Industry, or Arriana S who wants to “teach STEM like a girl”, and Abby A who isn’t exactly sure yet but knows she wants to inspire others and make a positive impact.

Bella Shuler is a Senior Counselor at the University of South Florida, Oceanography Camp for Girls. She is a current 4th-year student at New College of Florida studying Marine Biology who has come back to OCG several times as a peer counselor and now senior counselor after being a camper herself.