Volunteer Profile: Anji Zhang

Anji Zhang is a 2nd year Chemistry student at the University of Toronto

When and how did you first hear about Pueblo Science?

I’m a chemistry student at the University of Toronto. I first heard about Pueblo Science before the 2018 Good Morning Science fundraiser, where many other fellow U of T students were volunteering. The event caught my eye because there was a volunteer position open for the science magic show – I signed up soon after that, out of my love of showcasing pretty colours and creating explosions (both of which were performed onstage to the delight of both the audience and I). This first fundraiser allowed me to see the incredible work Pueblo Science does and the meaningful community impact that results. I’m thrilled to say I performed in the science magic show in the subsequent year’s fundraiser as well.

What volunteering activities have you done with Pueblo Science?

In addition to launching my Broadway-bound career as a science magician, I was involved in putting together Pueblo Science’s first-ever Hackathon for Science Education. This event turned out to be one of the most exciting projects I have ever been part of; it transforms critical thinking into solutions that allow students with stunted learning opportunities to engage with science, hands-on, in the same way I have been lucky enough to experience and love. Being able to watch the hardworking, talented participants apply their problem-solving abilities to such a worthwhile cause made a lasting impression on me. This application of science to create real-world solutions reminds me to be excited about what I do and keeps me curious about research and discovery during my long hours of classes at the university.

At the Hackathon for Science Education, Toronto October 2019

What attracted you to this cause?

Science education is a cause that I hold close to my heart. As a university student, I recognize that I am incredibly privileged to spend as much time as I do on learning. So much of the work I have done here as a volunteer has been to advance the accessibility of science education, so that even those in low-resource communities can be given the opportunity to be curious about science. This work is why I believe so strongly in what Pueblo Science does.

What inspires you?

Some of my greatest inspirations have been my teachers. Throughout high school, I was studying jazz music rather seriously; I played for the JazzFM radio station Youth Big Band, and participated in the Humber College Community Music School, where I had the opportunity to work with many world-class musicians. My mentors there are some of the best teachers I have ever had. In addition to the advanced music education I was lucky to gain, I also learned valuable lessons about work ethic and dedication that will never leave me. Having these mentors taught me just how positive of an influence a good teacher can have. It is because of these role models that I developed a love for teaching and spreading my passions with others. Consequently, the work Pueblo Science does to further science outreach and broaden science education inspires me in the same way.

How has the volunteering experience changed you?

As a science student, it often becomes difficult to stay grounded in passion and curiosity at a competitive, high-stakes university like U of T. The work I do with Pueblo Science helps me keep perspective and reminds me that the hard work I put into my studies can be harnessed to do good; every day, the many role models I have encountered at Pueblo Science exemplify their ability to do just that.

Science magic show Good Morning Science Fundraiser, Toronto November 2019.

Why do you continue to support Pueblo Science?

Pueblo Science has allowed me to apply my science background in one of the most rewarding ways possible. My experiences working with children fuel my love for teaching and inspire me to stay just as curious as the eager, wide-eyed kids that consistently have more questions than I have answers. Moreover, being able to dedicate my time and energy to a cause that provides learning opportunities to more students inspires me to work twice as hard, and only makes me more excited about science, outreach, and teaching.

What do you think other people should know about Pueblo Science?

The staff, volunteers, and mentors at Pueblo Science are some of the most talented and hardworking individuals I know. It is no surprise just how much Pueblo Science has accomplished with these extraordinary leaders at the helm. I am incredibly grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had to learn from such a stellar team!

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