SECU Public Fellows Internship Brings Science to Franklin County

Fiona Chen demonstrates how electronics work to youth in Franklinton.

Biology student Fiona Chen ’25 merged her love for teaching, science and community service during her SECU Public Fellows internship with United Way of Franklin County. Inspired by her rural roots, interest in public service and aspirations for dental school, Chen saw the opportunity as a way to integrate her passions.

As an intern, Chen worked on the Innovation Mobile Lab, a bus initiative delivering STEM activities to youths across North Carolina, particularly in rural and low-income areas like Vance, Franklin and Durham counties. United Way of Franklin County’s executive director, Andrea Bell Wright, highlighted the importance of serving the area’s Title I schools, emphasizing the immense need and opportunities to introduce STEM to the students.

“I want to be a dentist in the future and a lot of dentistry is about teaching and giving back to the community, but I also have a science background, so I thought it would be really great to be able to integrate those two into the bus,” said Chen when reflecting on her choice to apply for the internship.

Chen, being from Franklin County, recognized the lack of STEM exposure among her peers growing up. Her role as the innovation coordinator involved teaching STEM through engaging activities, aiming to demonstrate the excitement and potential careers within STEM fields to the students.
“The goal here is to show them that having a career in STEM is a possibility and it can be fun at the same time,” said Chen.

Written By: Brianna Patterson

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