Updated: May 14, 2022
By Asal Mohammadi
JuSTEmagine’s board displays a wide range of talents and passions in STEM education. Claire Cenovic is a current junior at Brownell Talbot and the 2021-2022 Secretary and Director of Outreach. Claire is rising to the position of President of JuSTEMagine for the 2022-2023 year.
What was it like being the Secretary and Director of Outreach in 2021?
From 2019 through 2021, I was the JuSTEMagine Secretary and Director of Outreach. Since these were the first few years since the founding of JuSTEMagine, we were working on growing our organization to become international, meaning outreach was critical. Thanks to the help and encouragement of my fellow Board Members, I got to create and attend many STEAM and SEL events, thus allowing me to meet individuals from many states and countries, as well as gain skills in communication and technology that I would have never gained without JuSTEMagine. I have especially loved seeing JuSTEMagine become more than just a STEM organization—after 3 years of hard work, JuSTEMagine now includes efforts in art, SEL, advocacy, and more.
What were your responsibilities in your role?
The roles of Secretary and Director of Outreach were pretty self-explanatory, but I believe the simplicity of the roles themselves made them even more important to me. For example, my main role as Secretary was to record notes during our bi-monthly meetings. While taking these notes, I learned every detail of the projects our team members were working on, thus allowing me to get my feet on the ground before becoming President. On a similar note as Director of Outreach, I got to communicate with other organizations and nonprofits, learning the ins and outs of their missions and seeing how they can connect to ours. Throughout my time as Director of Outreach, JuSTEMagine gained key partnerships with nonprofits such as Prairie STEM, SPARK Positivity, and Justice Murals.
What are some challenges that you’ve encountered in your position?
As Director of Outreach, I faced challenges making connections with other organizations and students. Those challenges can be greatly attributed to COVID-19 and our transition to doing remote/virtual work. When we were forced to go into quarantine, we could not hold in-person meetings; therefore, facing us to learn how to use technology and think outside of the box. In the end, these challenges have made me a stronger, more intelligent person, because I have had to learn how to use certain technologies that I now rely on daily (in order to connect with others!)
What is one of the most memorable moments you’ve had as a part of juSTEMagine?
One of the most memorable moments I have had as a part of JuSTEMagine was when we were asked to assemble STEM Kits for Prairie STEM in 2020 when COVID-19 first hit. After lots of communication and planning, Prairie STEM ended up shipping over 500 pounds of materials to my house (which was over 400 pounds more than what we were expected to get!) Thankfully, I had a lot of free time during quarantine to assemble the kits, but I probably put in over 500 service hours that Spring! The time I spend assembling those kits allowed me to connect with my brother because we both worked so hard together to assemble them.
What are you looking forward to in your future role as president?
I could not be more excited to be the President of the JuSTEMagine Board! In the past, with a few exceptions, I have only been able to dip my toes in the opportunities that relate specifically to the positions of Outreach Director and Secretary. Now, as President, I am able to overlook all projects currently going on within the organization. Whether it is learning how to code or making instructions for Positivity in a Box Kits, I will now be able to gain new skills, help out wherever needed, and keep expanding our amazing organization!
Why are you passionate about working as a member of the board?
My passion to start JuSTEMagine first sparked in 2019 when I volunteered with an Omaha nonprofit called Completely Kids. After working with those students in my own city that were lacking certain components of their education (such as STEM or SEL,) I knew I had to take action and create an organization that would give these students opportunities in not only STEAM but also in SEL, thus giving them a chance to grow their social skills. When you combine SEL and STEAM, students are equipped for higher education such as college or trade school, as well as the social world that surrounds them. I believe a well-rounded education is critical, so by being a part of the JuSTEMagine Board, I can spread that and provide students with the resources they may need to explore their passions.