Jessica Hallgath has long held a passion for science and a love for volunteering. And as a volunteer at the Michigan Science Center in Detroit, she has had the opportunity to combine both interests and show others the happiness they both bring her.
“Volunteering at the Michigan Science Center has been amazing,” she said. “I’ve grown up volunteering, but I’ve never been able to combine it with my passion for science. So when I had the chance to, I couldn’t say no.”
Hallgath—a senior majoring in bioengineering and minoring in Hispanic studies—has volunteered at the Michigan Science Center since August 2016. She grew up loving science and has known since her junior year of high school that she wanted to major in bioengineering.
“Science has always been my favorite subject, but my interest in it has taken many forms throughout my educational career,” she said. “I love combining biological science with technical concepts, so going into the bioengineering field has been one of the best decisions I’ve made.”
At the center, Hallgath spends her time on the first floor—which houses many of the center’s physics and engineering exhibits—works in the Spark!Lab where visitors are able to experience the inventive process through hands-on activities, and has become a role model through the center’s STEMinista program—which seeks to introduce STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concepts to young girls.
“The center does a good job of creating interactive exhibits, so many times the kids just play and explore on their own,” Hallgath said. “But when I get the chance to explain the concept of the exhibit to them—and they really get it—I can see the excitement on their face and it’s an amazing feeling.”
She said volunteering at the center has had an unexpected benefit too. She has gained a greater appreciation for Detroit and the impact the center has made on the city.
“The center is heavily involved in spreading education and fun throughout the city, in ways I never would’ve expected,” she said. “I’ve fostered a better connection with the city and community members through my time at the center, and I think that’s one of the best rewards.”
Hallgath plans to graduate this April and then pursue a master’s degree in bioengineering. After graduate school, she hopes to work for a medical device manufacturer, saying, “I would love to make healthcare more affordable for both patients and providers by innovating medical devices and creating lower cost solutions.”