Catching up with Summer Program alum Heidi Stephenson

As many of the learners from our Readiness Institute Summer Program know, our connection doesn’t just end after the summer. We continue to stay in touch with learners when they go back for their senior year, after they graduate high school, and beyond. We recently checked in with some of the young adults who were a part of program and have now graduated high school and are on to their next steps of adulthood. 

Heidi StephensonHeidi S Headshot

Where are you now?

I will be attending the University of Pittsburgh College of Business Administration and the Frederick Honors College with a major in marketing.

What do you enjoy most about where you are now?

What I enjoy most about where I am now is that I feel hopeful for my future, and I have confidence to adjust to change. Ever since I was young, I always knew the feeling of change as I moved a lot and attended a total of eleven schools throughout my life. I always felt uncertain and afraid because I never knew what was going to happen. However, as I adjust to another move to college, after different experiences and learning throughout my life, I feel prepared and ready for this change, and I am excited to see what the future has in hold for me. Instead of living with the fear of something new and different, I welcome change with open arms.

How has your life changed since the Readiness Institute?

Before starting the Readiness Institute program, I knew that I was interested in pursuing a career in marketing and advertising, but I was unsure of where I could work or what I could do after graduating with these majors. While participating in the Readiness Institute, I was introduced to many different people, companies, and career paths. I soon came to realize the wide variety of jobs that involve marketing and advertising, and how my other interests could relate to these majors. For example, I really enjoyed making podcasts on the first day of the program at SLB Radio, and I also was interested in the new Moonshot Museum we visited in Pittsburgh. After the Readiness Institute program ended, I was inspired to continue to learn more about opportunities within these two businesses. During my senior year of high school, I was accepted into the Remake Learning Days Youth Ambassador Program with SLB Radio Productions. In this program, I promoted, attended, and covered Remake Learning Days events throughout the Pittsburgh area. This was a month-long festival for youth and families, showcasing learning innovations. Additionally, I was accepted into the Carnegie Science Center Launch Your Future Program, where I learned about careers in the space industry. I also created and presented a marketing pitch about the space industry and its impact on the environment and conducted research with a group to write an informative article regarding the space industry. I am truly thankful for these experiences because I was able to learn more about marketing, and I am very excited to start at the University of Pittsburgh School of Business Administration.

How did the Readiness Institute help you prepare for where you are now?

The Readiness Institute helped me prepare for college, as well as provided me with countless resources to explore different career pathways. When beginning the program the summer before my senior year, I was not very confident in my future. I was afraid that I would not get into a specific college, or I would end up choosing the wrong major. However, as I participated in the Readiness Institute, I met many wonderful people who advised me to be open-minded about my future and helped me understand that I cannot just simply know what it will look like now as many things can change before I even graduate college. I understand that not knowing something is more than okay, and I am ready and willing to adjust my plans.

What advice or message do you have for your fellow Readiness Institute alums?

My biggest piece of advice is to always keep your mind open and be ready to learn. No matter what happens, we will always have to face situations we may never have thought of, both positive and negative. However, if we welcome change instead of trying to fight it, we can persevere and grow stronger. Additionally, we should always be eager to learn. We will never know everything, and we may learn lessons from unexpected experiences and people. Also, never be afraid to ask for help or guidance!

See all Summer Program blog posts