Sara Peterson: Climbing Towards STEM Success

Sara at Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks–the highest point in New York State! She hiked 16 miles through rain, fog, and wind gusts up to 70 mph.


Sara Peterson graduated from University of Rochester in May 2017 with a B.S. in Neuroscience and minor in Chemistry. This year she is serving as a Rochester Youth Year Fellow/AmeriCorps VISTA at Girl Scouts of Western New York. Her project focuses on promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) opportunities for girls by expanding community partnerships, training volunteers, grant writing, and developing programs.

We are excited to celebrate that Sara has been accepted and will be attending University of Rochester’s School of Medicine and Dentistry next fall!

What attracted you to Rochester Youth Year?
I worked in the Rochester Center for Community Leadership since I was a freshman, so I went through college hearing about the awesome things that RYY Fellows were doing through AmeriCorps VISTA. When I decided I wanted to take a gap year before medical school, I was really excited about the option to serve a year in Rochester. I feel like I’ve grown so much as a person due to my experiences and interactions within Rochester in the school, refugee community, and hospital settings. I know that Rochester has needs, but I also know that there are such great resources that will go farther with a little more development.

How would you describe yourself?
I’m definitely a people person in every sense of the word. I love to meet people and learn their stories, but also I find (and offer!) support through others. Also I’m extremely hardworking and motivated. Once I set a goal, I’m putting my all into achieving it! I am from a small, rural town so I have an appreciation for close-knit communities, farms, and country music!

Why do you find meaning in service?
I find meaning in service for a ton of reasons. First, knowing that you had a hand in developing an asset to the community that will directly impact others is a really meaningful thing. I work with the Girl Scouts of Western New York in STEM, and seeing the girls get excited about a STEM event I had a hand in planning, and really understand that STEM is for girls just as much as boys is awesome. Also, service helps you grow immensely.

How does RYY fit into your professional goals?
RYY was a perfect one-year position to allow me to take a gap year before medical school. RYY is giving me skills in communication, building connections within the community, practice in training others, and experience in grant writing. All of these skills will be translatable to medicine.

What’s one fact that some people don’t know about you?
I’m extremely into photography!  It’s not a secret among my friends that I take a lot of pictures — but usually it’s documenting that we are together. The obscure fact is that I’m also very into taking pictures of scenery in the various places I am. I’ve even framed some of my pictures as decor in my apartment!

the Rochester public Market

If you could be any animal, what would you be?
I would be a lion. I feel like my childhood has really enabled me to be a strong and courageous woman. I am also really protective as a person, always advocating for what is right. I also resonate strongly with being a leader — and could see myself as queen of the jungle!


GSWNY Program Highlights: 

Thanks to Sara, 206 community resources in in STEM for the Girl Scouts in fields of academia, businesses, neighborhood associations, professional societies, libraries, and places of worship her project’s STEM asset map in Rochester. The VISTA is in the process of building and solidifying partnerships with 26 organizations (and counting!). Furthermore, The VISTA has trained 65 volunteers in new STEM programming released by the Girl Scouts of the USA, which will in turn enrich the experiences girls have with STEM. Additionally, Sara has been involved in planning programming for the 3 STEM Launch Parties highlighting the new program material for girls at all scouting levels and for their families.

Thanks, Sara! Good luck with the rest of your service & congratulations on medical school!

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