Along with being an out of this world returning Board of Directors member for Higher Orbits, Jason Hopkins is also a major advocate for STEM outreach and mentorship. Throughout his career he has dedicated much of his time speaking at engagements and media events, while supporting programs that engage in STEAM activities. Currently, Jason works at Ball Aerospace as an Advanced Systems Manager.
I was over the moon to interview with Jason and hear more about his passions for STEM education and mentorship.
Katy Thompson: What inspires you to serve as a Board of Directors member for Higher Orbits?
Jason Hopkins: I enjoy giving back to the community and helping others achieve. I know that mentorship and support, whether its personally or financially, provides a benefit to everyone. I am just happy to pay it forward.
KT: Can you talk a little bit about your past experiences with Higher Orbits and other instances of STEM and STEAM outreach and what that meant to you?
JH: Yeah! I have had the honor of working one-on-one and in group settings with students. The experience of relating to students of all ages that are interested in STEM or STEAM is joyous. Watching them light up, being able to communicate with them about those common interests, and then also providing a face and even a voice for people who didn’t feel they were able to be successful in STEM. A lot of kids of color grow up without financial means, and often struggle realizing that they can still achieve their goals and dreams. Being able to see someone who looks like them, talks like them, thinks like them is huge. You know kids want a real relatable person that pushes them a little further.
KT: It is so important for students to be able to relate to a face, voice, and person who they know is supporting them. Thank you for sharing that.
And with that experience, how do you feel that impacts your role as a Board of Directors member?
JH: I think that experience is valuable because I provide perspective. As a minority in STEM, I am someone who worked my way through it the hard way, and learned on my own to get to where I am. It sets that additional perspective in diversity and thought. It’s a key thing. You know everyone talks about diversity, but its beyond race, creed, gender. You got to look at things from all perspectives.
KT: Perspective, experience, and being able to explain that in real time too. Just the way you shared your experience working previously with students, that is really crucial to understand as a Board Member because you are representing an organization that is working toward providing access to more students.
Can you speak a little bit about some Higher Orbits initiatives you have worked on?
JH: I have participated in at least two events. And they were amazing to watch. Hearing the students story and background as well as supporting them in their project development. It’s really cool to see the interesting perspective they bring to a problem and the solutions they come up with.
KT: It is a truly remarkable experience!
Now for our last question… If shipping and packaging was not an issue, what three things would you pack if you were traveling to Mars tomorrow?
JH: … I would not expect this to be the hardest question!
1. A laptop
You can do everything on that thing. I can watch movies, I can read, do research… assuming all the basic necessities are covered…
2. A battery
3. Another battery
Thinking about the longevity of the laptop... It is either that or a very long space tether for internet.
We are truly grateful for Jason’s support of Higher Orbits. His passion for STEM outreach fits right in with our board and is a major contributing factor to our success.