REAPING WHAT YOU SOW EAST student leaves impression, lands in municipal government BY SPENCER WATSON
Rachel Carmack graduated from Nettleton High School in 2011 after four years in EAST. She attended Arkansas State University and graduated with a degree in communication studies. She currently works for the City of Jonesboro.
Tell me about your experiences in EAST. What are your fondest memories? Favorite projects? Did you make friends there you still keep up with? What comes to mind when asked to think back on your time in the program? My fondest EAST memories are of my facilitator Sandra Taylor. She was an outstanding role model for all of us, but, looking back, I can see that she took a special interest in me. Having her to look up to as a woman in a STEM field really changed my outlook. I also treasure the communication skills I learned. We were encouraged to step out of our comfort zones and talk to professionals. These interactions taught me to respect my elders, but also to have the courage to approach them with confidence. In my later years in the class, I really enjoyed mentoring younger kids. We gained a junior high program, and that gave me another opportunity to teach newcomers. I cherish the friendships I made with students in the grades below me, and I frequently attended class during their hour so I could teach them new things and help with their project development. A favorite moment of mine was speaking [in front of thousands of people at the EAST] Conference when we won the Award of Excellence my senior year. Such a rush! Moments like these gave me such confidence speaking in front of crowds of my peers or even of my elders. What drew you to EAST? Did you know much about it going in? And how did it compare with those expectations? My older brother was in EAST before me, and I was immediately fascinated. I heard him talk daily about the cool things he was working on, and it felt like an eternity to wait two years before I could start in ninth grade. I knew going in that it would be a self-driven class, and I think thatâ€™s what drew me the most. Of course, as a high school freshman, I also liked that the only assignments and homework were those that we gave ourselves. What kinds of technology did you engage with in EAST and how did you apply those to solving community problems? My EAST co-pilot Elizabeth and I really got involved with video production and graphic design. I can remember SEVERAL times when community members would come to us asking for a promotional video or some kind of brand development. It is humbling to know that these companies and organizations trusted amateur high school students with the marketing of their business or event. These were always fun projects to work on because the consequences of our work were huge â€“ we could see our designs printed all over town, or we could see our videos online or on TV!
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