Carrigan says South High STEM mentoring program helped her develop every-day skills she uses to tackle challenges in new role
As the new director of the Kern County Public Health Services Department, Brynn Carrigan manages and oversees public-health care programs in Kern County and is now faced with one of her biggest challenges – guiding county residents through to a path toward normalcy in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carrigan took part in the MS3 program when she was a student at South High School. MS3 is a program that is dedicated to science, technology, engineering and math – and one that Aera has supported for more than 20 years. The program helped her get an early start on her studies at California State University, Bakersfield where she received her bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting.
Here Carrigan shares more about her experience in the MS3 program and how it has helped her get to where she is today.
What did you enjoy most about your experience in the MS3 program at South High?
I enjoyed the opportunity to get to know my teachers and my classmates. In the MS3 program, four classes every year are shared with the other students in the program. We all developed great friendships. To this day, I am friends with my fellow MS3 classmates.
What did you value the most from your experience in the MS3 program?
Hands down, it was the ability to get some of my college classes completed during my high school years so that I could focus on preparing for my career during my college years. The classes constantly challenged me. I had to work really hard at keeping up with the course materials and content, which taught me the value of hard work.
How do you think your experience in the program has helped you in the day-to-day work in your role?
It has helped me in my new position, and now more than ever due to the pandemic, I have to balance multiple tasks at any given time. Balancing four difficult high school classes, the homework from those classes, and my after-school job really helped prepare me for this position.
Why is it important for employees at companies like Aera Energy to take time out of their schedules to mentor high school students?
Local employers taking the time to support our students is extremely important. As a student, you really don’t know what the real world has to offer you. Relationships with and knowledge of local businesses helps our students to see that there are fantastic jobs locally that may be of interest. Local employees bring the extra layer of passion for our community, which is important in decision making in just about every job.
Was there a specific mentor you remember that really helped you, or shared a piece of advice that you remember? How did that piece of advice help you?
I would say Richard Giese, a science teacher at South High School, was the mentor I remember most. He was so calm in his teaching and made learning fun. I was his teacher’s aide in my senior year of high school and enjoyed every moment of that experience. He brought a level of fun to learning that I had never experienced before.
Because of my experience with him I have learned that we need to make the most of our experiences and laugh, even during the hard times. I have brought that into my career. COVID has been extremely challenging, but, within the Public Health Department, we make sure to have fun and laugh as we navigate through these challenging times.
What’s your message to high school students who are interested in exploring future STEM careers?
Do it! There are so many STEM career opportunities in Kern County, including many at Kern County Public Health. STEM careers are not only rewarding on so many levels, but they are how we make a positive influence on our community.