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Home : Media : News
NEWS | March 14, 2024

STEM volunteer has experienced both personal joy and leadership development since getting involved

By Aime Lykins, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs

Civic engagement and volunteerism are both dynamic ways to support local communities while simultaneously learnings new skills, building networks, increasing self-esteem, and forming meaningful connections that can make a difference in someone’s life.

Volunteering is a positive, altruistic act. Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility provides employees with numerous volunteer opportunities both within and outside of the Controlled Industrial Area. One of the shipyard’s most impactful volunteer opportunities is supporting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics programs at local schools. There are approximately 45 PSNS & IMF employees currently serving as STEM volunteers.

One volunteer who is making a big difference is Sybrina Nanez, metrology quality assurance specialist, Code 136, Engineering and Assessment Division. Nanez was introduced to STEM programming at the shipyard, where where she received the training required to help students in the classroom.

“I truly believe that it takes a village to raise children and being a positive influence in a child’s life is immeasurable,” said Nanez. “When I heard about the opportunity to work with children through the STEM program, and that it was supported by the command, I was immediately drawn to it.”

Prior to volunteering, Nanez had limited exposure to the STEM program but the command provided her with the knowledge and information she needed to start volunteering in classrooms right away. Nanez has been a STEM volunteer for eight years and has had a positive impact on the lives of hundreds of children.

“The volunteer process here at the shipyard is very easy,” said Nanez. “First, you review the command’s volunteer instruction, which explains how PSNS & IMF supports volunteer opportunities like STEM. Then you fill out a volunteer request form with your supervisor and both of you sign it. After choosing which event you would like to volunteer for, you fill out the school district’s background check and any volunteer forms they may have and submit them online or in person, whatever their process is. Finally, you show up to the school with ID in hand.”

Because STEM programming is so important to local schools and the future of the shipyard’s workforce, PSNS & IMF volunteers are given the chance to spend a portion of their workday in the classroom.

“My management is extremely supportive with my volunteer efforts,” said Nanez. “I am lucky enough to have management that sees me as a whole person and recognizes that volunteering in this capacity not only develops my leadership skills, but also brings me joy. Whenever I can help a child successfully complete a project when they initially doubted themselves is such a great feeling.”

One of Nanez’s most impactful volunteer experiences was participating in GEMS: Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science at Olympics College, which was geared toward middle school-aged girls.

“Encouraging any student to examine the possibility of a career in a STEM field is great, but I think that some of our girls are still being left behind in this conversation,” said Nanez. “Focusing on our girls during this event, and providing them a safe and secure space to experiment and ask questions, is meaningful to me. I wish there was a program like this when I was young.”

Nanez will continue to serve as a STEM volunteer in the years to come and encourages others to follow her lead by supporting STEM outreach.

“Take the chance and step out of your comfort zone,” said Nanez. “No matter what facet you volunteer for, you will walk away from the experience with something gained, and you will make an impact on a young life, whether they tell you or not.”

To learn more about STEM community service, email