I think LEGOs were my introduction into a love of engineering. In middle school I liked creating things, so I was looking for high schools with an engineering program. My parents told me to look at other schools rather than going to the public school by my house. Tampa Prep has the best STEM program, so I came here in ninth grade from a tiny charter school. I was drawn to the opportunities here. I’m now in the STEM Concentration, and I’ve been able to learn how to use a 3D printer, to code.
Mrs. Beekman was my advisor and my Physics teacher. She’s the one who made me realize how much I loved physics, which is why I take AP Physics now. I love how physics is applied math. I understand what I’m doing, I’m not just staring at graphs and coordinates like in Calculus or Algebra 2. I’m a visual thinker. Moving from visual to conceptual learning has helped me be better in math classes. Teachers push you here, but they don’t let you get lost. They help you.
I would tell new students to not be afraid to talk to people. My greatest mistake was that I stayed quiet when I first got here, so people assumed I was “the quiet one.” But I joined soccer and tennis and I’ve become part of something. The people here are so nice. Tampa Prep has become a second home to me.
Right now I’m leaning toward studying computer science, and I’m nervous about picking the right college. I’m a big worrier. My parents always tell me to stop stressing out. That’s why I like Tampa Prep. I worry less now because I’ve figured out how to talk to people. I’ve also learned how to advocate for myself. If I don’t understand a project, I figure out a new way to do it by asking a teacher or friend to help me. I’m proud of the way I handled the transition into high school here, and for pushing myself and trying new things.
Rachel is also interested in
Mrs. Suzanne Beekman on Rachel
I’ve been Rachel’s advisor for three years. She wants to learn for an understanding of things. She asks questions when needed, but what she really loves is to figure it out for herself.
She’s in the STEM Concentration, and part of that curriculum requires students to take an art class. She’s a builder so she took Craft & Design and was very into macrame. STEM Concentration students are also required to attend some sort of off-campus event–Rachel created her own by finding and interviewing a local engineer, just because she’s interested in the field.
When students like her finally see math applied to something–like, let’s think about what’s happening in the problem, let’s use the math to explain it–something clicks. Plus, it’s easy to teach someone who’s willing to learn and self-motivated as she is. I’m honored that I influenced her in some way, but she already internally possessed all that intellectual curiosity.