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10×10: Jessica

Jessica Yang

LearnServe Fellow 2010

Last Sunday I hosted my team’s weekly executive meeting over Google Hangout.  We talked casually, purposefully about each chapter of KAST – Kids Are Scientists Too, Inc., the organization I founded while in LearnServe – and our focus for Fall 2013.  As the founder and chief director, I am humbled to be leading such an amazing group.  Our team hails from 7 states, 11 high schools and universities.  They lead a team of 150 volunteers – all working towards the common goal of getting kids excited about science.

I have always been fascinated by how the world works.  I was fortunate to have some really engaging elementary school teachers who showed my class some really “cool” things.  Since then, I have loved science.  I want other kids to experience how exciting science can be!

I created KAST with that passion in mind.  We teach free hands-on after-school science classes to elementary and middle school students.  Our lessons are all created and taught by high school – and, more recently – college students.  In our first year, I was privileged to work with 50 volunteers who were able to share their love of science with 400 elementary and middle school students at 14 campuses.

Since that first year, KAST has grown.  Our early volunteers have brought the program to their college towns.  We’ve formally incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  And this fall we will launch KASTEdu, a comprehensive online curriculum for middle school students, compatible with state curriculum guidelines, but inclusive of so much more.  We continue to develop new lessons and expand our programs to new states.

If I had to name one thing that made me who I am today, it is undoubtedly and by far LearnServe.  LearnServe taught me to dream big, to embody my passions, and to not hesitate when presented with the opportunity to do something I truly believe in.  Through the many social entrepreneurs and inspired people I met, I acquired an understanding of things greater than myself, and developed a fierce desire to help others by actually changing the world for the better.  I became more responsible and professional, and learned to communicate with “adults” such as other social entrepreneurs, grant presentation panelists, and the pro bono lawyers who helped us become a registered 501(c)3 non-profit.

It is with these experience that I, as a first-year college student new to the MIT campus, decided to run for class president.  I introduced myself to hundreds of fellow students talking about my ideas for making our time at MIT memorable.  I have the privilege of serving as President of the Class of 2015.  As I consider my future after college, the most important – really, the only – consideration is what I can do to make our world a better place.

I am forever grateful to the peers I met, the people I learned from, and the LearnServe team for their guidance, leadership, and exceedingly compassionate help.  When I first heard of the LearnServe Fellows Program in high school, I was excited and knew I wanted to be a part of it.  But there was no way I could have imagined how truly special the experience would be.

To anyone in the Fellows Program: you are incredibly fortunate to have such a phenomenal opportunity.  Please continue to cherish it.  And to anyone thinking about supporting or being involved with LearnServe, absolutely do.

 

Jessica Yang graduated from the LearnServe Fellows Program in 2010.  She is a graduate of Richard Montgomery High School and currently attends the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  She is the Founder, President, and CEO of Kids are Scientist Too (KAST).

 LearnServe 10×10 interviews and profiles compiled by Melanie Barlow (Fellows 2010) and Julia Peck (Fellows 2011)

Celebrate our 10th Anniversary with us on November 6th.

 

4 thoughts on “10×10: Jessica

  1. Hello Jessica .
    Your Idea of making Science more interested and loved by kids is really great and it help to produce Educated generation , specially in this time when kids prefers to waist time on useless things and they forgot what’s best to do , I always wanted to see kids get engaged in Science and love it and not just to get grades and pass ,
    it is all about being educated and apply this education for the benefit of society .
    i hope this program stretches and gets to International level

    Thank you for making the world a better place to live .

  2. In my opinion, KAST is one of the best local social entrepreneurship ventures. In an increasingly digital, technological, and science-oriented world, the new generation has to be well equipped to handle the challenges that come with such an environment – and KAST does just that. It educates children all over the U.S., from all backgrounds and ages, about science and technology, and gets them excited about that! Certainly, it’s not easy to get all the resources needed to build nation-wide curriculums, let alone retain the kids and keep them learning actively – I should know, as math and science aren’t quite my strong suits, and it’s hard to keep me engaged in those classes. Ms. Yang, I commend you, but one question first: have you considered expanding KAST to the high school level? If KAST were available to even more kids, it would prepare the new incoming workforce for the jobs that will be at their disposal, and it will open so many doors and opportunities for them that they probably wouldn’t get under similar circumstances.

  3. Hello,

    Although I myself am not a science person, I think what you did for those that do have a passion for the subject is very admirable. I think the idea of having youth teach other youth about a common interest is conducive to better learning overall. That being said, what inspired you to create such a program? Also, what obstacles did you face tackling this social venture? What advice can you give to someone like me who isn’t sure of their passion but still wants to make a difference in the world around me?

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