For Christian Solorio ’18, this year’s fall break was out of this world.
The physics major from Chicago spent his time off from classes participating in Kenyon’s job-shadow program, which allows students to observe the careers of Kenyon alumni and parent volunteers. He flew to Houston and shadowed Megan Harvey ’05, who also majored in physics and is now a flight controller for the International Space Station (ISS).
During their day together, Harvey showed Solorio around Johnson Space Center and included him on simulations testing potential repair situations and flight maneuvers for the ISS. He also had an opportunity to sit in the main console of Mission Control and listen in on the operations.
“The dream of any kid interested in science is to work at NASA,” Solorio said. “It was cool to gain a better understanding of what the day-to-day looks like in that job and to hear the process that they went through to get to that position.”
Solorio is one of dozens of students participating in the job-shadow program this year. The Career Development Office (CDO) connects student applicants with one of nearly 2,000 parents and alumni who volunteer to mentor students in their workplaces. A sampling of this year’s sponsors includes a documentary filmmaker, an education policy researcher at Georgetown University, an emergency physician at the Cleveland Clinic and an executive producer of ABC’s “The Chew.”
Students interested in the program can get an added boost by applying for the Waugh Fellowship, an endowed fund that covers the cost of travel, food and professional clothing needed for internships or job shadows. The fund was established in 2007 by Larae Bush Schraeder ’97 and her husband, Jeffrey, in honor of Larae’s grandparents, Calvin and Lenice Waugh.
“Through this program, students can explore careers, find things they like and don’t like, meet people and create networks in the industries they want to pursue,” said Lee Schott, assistant director of career development. “For some students, a career can be a vague concept. The job shadow is meant to make it real to them and hopefully inform their career search and inform their education.”
“When you’re in college, it’s hard to wrap your head around what it’s really like in certain positions, and the space industry is really hard to break into if you don’t know what position you’re looking for,” Harvey said. “The job shadowing gets you right in there, and you get to see exactly what people are doing.”
“Christian was beyond my expectations,” Harvey added. “I can’t wait to have more Kenyon students come.”