As she prepares for her life and career, eighteen-year-old Cameron King has done an incredible job combining academics with practical experience. Not only did she graduate eighth in her class at Sandy Creek High with an unweighted GPA of 3.98, she’s also involved in the school’s work-based learning program, where her interest in engineering has had a chance to thrive. She’s active in SkillsUSA Georgia, and recently won first place in the Georgia for photography. She’ll be competing at national soon. She also helped launch a junior chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers at Sandy Creek, excelled in AP classes including English, physics, and environmental science, and was elected president of the Science Olympiad. Plus, she played violin in the school orchestra.
While her academic achievements are impressive, the work she’s done outside the classroom is equally so. Through Fayette County’s work-based learning program, she spent 80 hours interning with the Fayette County Department of Environmental Management, where she learned to use geological mapping software to determine stormwater drainage and location of floodplains for construction. She worked closely with several SPLOST projects, particularly transportation initiatives, and has spoken at the Board of Education and the State Capitol about the importance of work-based learning and vocational education.
“Students do need a traditional education,” she says, “but they also need skills they can use. I think combining academics with work opportunities is a great way to prepare for our futures.”
Cameron was also nominated by Tyrone major Eric Dial to participate in the Model Atlanta Regional Commission. As a member of the program’s environmental management committee, she worked with her team to create plans for installing community gardens throughout the metro Atlanta area, including rooftop gardens, and also xeriscaping, a landscape management technique which significantly reduces irrigation needs. At the end of the program, Cameron and her team had a chance to present their ideas to the board of the ARC.
Last year, she also spent three weeks at Georgia Tech’s Summer Engineering Institute, where her team of four worked on a self-driving vehicle project. Not only did they actually develop such a vehicle, they were also tasked with creating a hypothetical company to sell their product, complete with business plan. In her spare time, Cameron tutors students in second through tenth grade in math, which she says has helped her learn to motivate different personalities and arrange engaging lesson plans.
“I’ve had opportunities to gain really valuable experience in public speaking, project management, planning, teamwork – all kinds of skills that I’ll need in college and in my career,” Cameron says. “It’s definitely going to make a difference in my life.”
Just last month, Cameron also won a Cards Against Humanity scholarship based on a video she created to explain quantum computing to the masses. She’ll use the funds this fall at Georgia Tech, where she’ll major in materials science and engineering. She plans to concentrate on either nanotechnology or polymers, and eventually wants to work for the EPA at the federal level.
Her advice to other young women? When you reach your goal, set a new one. Never stop. Never become complacent. There’s always something new out there to achieve.