Volunteer of the Week: Kristi Gordon believes in making a difference for children

Published 1:20 pm Thursday, April 18, 2024

This week’s Volunteer of the Week is Kristi Gordon. Gordon is a native of Vicksburg and works as a civil engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Vicksburg District. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from Louisiana State University and a Master of Business Administration from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. Gordon is a proud veteran of the U.S. Navy and mom of one son, Gabriel.

How did your volunteering in STEM Outreach begin?

I participated in my first Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) outreach activity in 2013 while deployed with the Navy Seabees in Sasebo, Japan. I volunteered as a science fair judge at the DOD elementary school on base. The excitement and enthusiasm of those kids to share what they had learned was inspiring. So, encouraging other kids to participate in STEM activities, and a career in STEM, became a passion of mine.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

How long have you been volunteering with SAME in STEM Outreach?

I’ve been active in the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) since 2012.

What is your favorite memory while volunteering for SAME?

I have many fond memories of volunteering. I remember watching our group of campers at the 2019 SAME Army camp bond and start working together as a team to solve problems. I especially enjoyed watching two of the girls exhibit their leadership skills. One of those girls went on to join the Navy, which made me very proud. During COVID-19 in 2020, I volunteered as a mentor during a virtual STEM camp hosted by the U.S. Naval Academy. Despite the challenges of distance and technology, I was incredibly impressed by the creativity of the kids and their ability to work together during a PYTHON coding challenge. 

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering?

Just do it! The more you give, the more you receive. Making a difference in a child’s life is so fulfilling and important.

What are some of your tasks while volunteering in STEM Outreach?

I’ve volunteered with the organization in different ways. I’ve judged science fairs, graded math competitions, mentored at summer camps, and coached a LEGO League team. Most recently, during Engineer Week in February 2024, I volunteered on a panel speaking to students from Vicksburg and Warren Central High Schools about careers in engineering.

What have you learned from volunteering?

I always did well academically but didn’t have a clear path forward after high school. Instead of going straight to college, I went to work and took night classes at a community college until I could figure out what I wanted to do. Thankfully, I had some phenomenal mentors (teachers, family, and bosses) who encouraged me to pursue a career in engineering and the military. I have been involved in construction projects from Afghanistan to Japan, South Korea, California, Hawaii, Guam, and beyond. I have met some of the most amazing people and had incredible experiences traveling the world. I credit my success to those wonderful people who volunteered their time and guidance to develop me. Volunteering in STEM outreach is my way of “paying it forward” and sharing that gift of positive encouragement with the next generation of STEM professionals.

How can someone who might be interested in volunteering with STEM Outreach get involved? 

Volunteering as a judge at a local school science fair is an easy way to get involved. There is always a need for volunteers.

If there is a volunteer who should be featured, please submit their name and contact information to volunteer@vicksburgpost.com.