In this month’s Volunteer Highlight, we want to introduce you to Valerie Chen, a Test Prep instructor, who just joined Minds Matter in 2019! A recent transplant from Michigan, Valerie is a proud graduate of the University of Michigan, where she received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Mechanical Engineering. We sat down with Valerie to get to know her and why she volunteers at Minds Matter Seattle.
What made you decide to volunteer with MMSEA?
I miss teaching! Throughout my high school and college years, I taught students in different topics. I really enjoy forming meaningful personal connections with students and that is what brought me to volunteer with MMSEA.
What are you up to on Monday through Friday?
I am an Aerospace Engineer at Blue Origin. We’re currently developing our enormous rocket called New Glenn, and my team focuses on making a system that delivers propellant to the engines to help bring satellites (and eventually people!) to space.
I have been impressed by how well organized MMSEA is and the commitment shown by our volunteers and students. Everyone commits a lot of time and energy to make sure that each week our sessions are well executed.
When you were growing up, what do you want to become?
Throughout high school, I wanted to be a doctor. But when I entered college, I got hooked on a student team that designed and built a car from scratch each school year. I also joined a research lab that built and operated satellites that orbited Earth. To test out the sensors on the satellites, we would first fly them in the upper atmosphere suspended beneath large balloons. This lab really opened my mind to the endless opportunities in the space industry, and here I am today!
What is one important advice you’ve received in your life?
Be open to new opportunities. People often ask if you have a five-year plan. Of course, it’s great to plan ahead. But if other opportunities present themselves, you should always consider them.