The Cal Poly Can podcast is produced by the College of Science and Mathematics at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California. Assistant Dean of Advancement and External Relations, Kathryn Dilworth, interviews faculty, students, alumni, and friends whose stories and work inspire and uplift. Collaboration and sharing are the themes of this podcast as we examine the power of mutual service and support for solving problems and answering important questions.
This quarter, our podcast is focused on the theme of EDUCATION. Education is the core of the Cal Poly mission, and our faculty, students and alumni are engaged in various roles supporting teaching and learning. Each show this quarter will take a different look at the issues facing education on our campus and across the country.
This episode features Brittny Nation, a Biochemistry alumna.
If you have any ideas for upcoming guests or want more information on how to support the programs and projects featured in any of the podcasts in this series, please get in touch with us on our website or by email.
Hello out there, we are so happy to welcome our Cal Poly community to the Cal Poly can podcast. This podcast features you, our community members on and off campus. We are celebrating the remarkable work you're doing, and giving you the opportunity to give a shout out to those whose help and support is crucial to your success. I'm your host, Katherine Dilworth, your assistant dean of Advancement and External Relations in the College of Science and Mathematics. Welcome, and enjoy the conversation. This quarter, our podcast is focused on the theme of education and education is the core of the Cal Poly mission. And our faculty, students and alumni are engaged in various roles supporting teaching and learning. And each show this quarter will take a different look at the issues facing education on our campus and across the country. Now, let's get straight to the conversation. Hi, everybody, I'm so excited to welcome you to the fifth episode of the Cal Poly Can podcast, which we are fo used on education, as you kn w, then this series and I'm so excited to have one of our Ca Poly grads, as a guest to ay, Brittny Nation. Welcome, Bri tny. Thank you, thank you very much. We're going to talk about her career in education and her passion for her work. But I really want to start with just tell us about your time at Cal Poly and really, what the takeaway was from that experience that led you into your career. Absolutely. So I have a degree in biochemistry that I got from Cal Poly, I also stayed there to get my teaching credential. To be very honest, I didn't enter it with the intent of teaching, I entered biochemistry thinking I wanted to do something in science, I was particularly kind of headed towards, like pharmaceutical research with the intent of like, I kinda just want to make a lot of money. I'm gonna be very frank about it. Um, and then, you know, you get there, and you're in lab all day. And you go, Oh, no, I don't want to do this. So, um, I started kind of having to like, rethink what I wanted to do. And then Seth bush got ahold of me, like he does. He's so great at finding people who are going to make amazing teachers even when they don't see it. And so what he did was I had him for chemistry. And at some point, he was like, Hey, you should, you should take this learn by doing that class. And he's like, you'd be a really great teacher. And I was like, absolutely not, because they don't make any money. And he was like, okay, but you should think about it. And then I started working with him. So I did my senior project with him I did, which was to actually create programs where we taught science to, I think, was fifth grade, third or third through fifth graders at two of the neighboring schools in the area. And then they during their recesses would take what they learned these projects, and go run them with the younger kids on campus. So I did that with him. And then I also did learn by doing lab with him for many times as both the class and the summer program. And then I was like, Ah, man you got he got is what I love. And you know, and also through conversation with him. He's like, what have you been doing that you really love in your free time. And in reality, I was like, I've been doing summer camps, and being camp counselors and all these things that I didn't really stop and think about like, Oh, this makes complete sense. I would want to go this route, but I just, I didn't really see it originally. So. So yeah, I did that I was he had me do the noise Scholar Program was awesome. So that paid for a good portion of my teaching credential, because otherwise I was like nothing before this. So I did that. And then went into teaching and talk for years out in the Central Coast, and then another four years up here in the Bay Area. And now I've transitioned to a education edtech and a nonprofit organization. And I think this is such a great story that a lot of people will want to hear and I love that you got the bug despite your best efforts to begin with. It's sometimes you think, Oh gosh, I wish that my passion was digging for gold, you know. But we're certainly glad that your passion is working with students and so you taught high school for eight years, and now you've moved into this really neat And education related technology company. And so tell us what you're what you're doing there and how that's really feeding this passion you have for not just teaching, but also this holistic growth that you want to facilitate in, in young people. So talk a little bit about that. Absolutely. So in teaching, you know, I was I was, I was starting to kind of hit some roadblocks, because I like to call them as in having like, the the breadth of the creativity, I would like to have with how I believe that education should be run and how we should be educating students. Because, you know, we have such things as state testing, and we have a we teach courses, we try to align our courses, because we got to make sure that when, you know, like, it goes into the next grade, everybody's on the same page and on the same level. And, and sometimes that, you know, takes the individuality and the creativity and originality out of the students, because it kind of it sometimes almost works as a as a one size fits all we're going to try to differentiate within. And so I wanted to kind of have a little bit more freedom in what it was that I wanted to teach and how it was being taught. And so I started working very recently at a nonprofit called edmo. And it is a great company, that we offer courses for students from pre K, up until about eighth grade. And you can kind of go in two directions. There's like a coaching program where you can have one on one classes with our instructors, or you can go into our virtual classes, and they really do the entire breadth of steam. So we have science, we have technology, there's engineering, there's arts, so you can take the class in, you know, guitar, or yoga or ceramics. And mathematics is really embedded in both our science and engineering in design courses, but also in our coach our coaching, like, we have mentorship, but we also have tutoring. So those are also embedded in there as well. So it was really about having more creative space to figure out what it is that I wanted to teach. And then the company does an phenomenal job of including Sal, which is social emotional learning. So it's very important to them, that we're not just having a conversation and teaching academics, it's important that we're talking at a very young age to kids about how to be good people how to think about responsibility and initiative, how you think about emotional management, how you think about communication with others, and how we should treat other people. And also kind of really moving in a space of trying to expose kids to different types of people, especially now in a virtual space, where you're not meeting anybody. But just kind of really trying to bridge the gap between these barriers of, you know, wherever you're born into, it kind of begins to dictate the initial formation of how you view the world. And how do we early on kind of get you introduced to other people, other cultures, and kind of begin to bridge that gap of like, we want to we love great, smart, amazing, intelligent kids, but we also love kids who are good people, and learn how to. And it's not just about good people to each other, but it's also how do I like? How do I get in touch with myself? How do I know who I am? How do I regulate my own self? And how do I tap into my own creativity and my own originality and be comfortable with that, because I think that will actually produce some of, you know, the best people in the world. And it's just, it's such a wonderful opportunity to give people to develop those because I know, you know, having been teaching and having like a large class, and in it full of individuals with individual kind of needs and talents and all that to be able to really hone in and, and and try to kind of build the solutions. I mean, that's really the promise of the nonprofit sector, you know, why it was created and why that it's formed and the way it is, it's like, here's where we can really, we can fail. We can try a bunch of things and find the right thing and, and that seems to really align with your creative nature. Yeah, and also your problem solving nature, which really feels so Cal Poly, you know, how do we do this better? How do we do this and we're, you know, effectively efficiently and it's that But but then you're learning by doing and this program is you create it, you know, with your team and your partners in this company. So it sounds like it's really gratifying. Absolutely. And I think that's a really good point is, the comparison of you know, traditional education is there's not a lot of room to try something new, there's not a lot of room to shift, because you're doing it on such a large scale, that if you shift, if you want to shift it here, you got to shift it across, you know, 4000 5000 kids at a time, or even your entire district type of thing, and then that's embedded in shifting something in the state. And that's embedded into something federally, you know, so there's not a lot of room to try something new. And that's what I really love, as you're saying about this company, but also just nonprofit work is we know what's not working, so let's be able to have the space to try something new. And when we land, we land, you know, and what it does it it doesn't, but when we land, we land, and we can provide this in a space where we know that there is not a lot of flexibility in maybe say, the traditional classroom setting, but you're also bringing the legitimacy of eight years in the classroom to this task. Because, you know, that can happen to you have, well meaning people who want to help solve problems, but, but they they don't, they haven't really been in that environment. And even if they, you know, think that they can understand it and want to you bringing that experience is so valuable to this, you know, endeavor that you've that you've stepped into here. And, you know, I you talking with you about it, you know, you're very mission driven. And you know, and that's, I mean, that's really at the core of philanthropy, you know, helping others and giving people opportunities to help you. And when you when you told the story about the mentorship that you received from Seth, just being so transformational, you know, your your noise, your fellowship, you know, that was funded by an individual who will, who doesn't know you who doesn't know who they're gonna give it to, you know, but they were inspired for some reason to make that opportunity available. And it's just, I see you really focused on using your work to give back and to make a difference. And so, talk a little bit, a little bit about that, and what inspires that. Um, you know, I think that I can't find joy somewhere else, no matter how much I've tried. So even leaving education, my initial thought was to just go into tech, because tech is booming. Again, I did the same thing I did going into college and messed up would say, route is I definitely wanted, I was looking to go into tech, for specifically for diversity inclusion, which, even if I was landing in tickets still, like, let's help people as best we can. And then as I was looking more and more into tech, I was just realizing, like, again, I'm gonna be walking into a situation where there's not a lot of, there's not a lot of wiggle room in transforming what I'm looking to transform. And then finally was like, Well, you know, like, maybe I should consider, like, nonprofit, and then did that was like, Ah, here we go. It's just like, why do we did, but you know, it's, it's so you'll find this. And I think, especially in my role, where I work with donors a lot. Everyone wants to be in a mission driven environment, because it's just human nature, you know, if you're a loving person you want to help and, and there's that opportunity. And so, you know, some people do it because they can, you know, give money to a university or to a nonprofit, and really make a difference. And so then all of that work that they did, is transformed into something that they get really excited about. And I'm sure you'll be exploring that whole, that whole realm, being an a nonprofit organization. Now, welcome to the business. I think it's very important that I acknowledge that, if the joy that I find in helping other people is really based in like, it's this, it lacks altruism, because I don't I don't know if that exists, or not. But it is it's a very symbiotic relationship of like, this brings me joy to see other people have joy. It brings me joy to see other people see themselves and believe in themselves, have a good time and learn like I'm a huge learner. I ingest information all the time. I love reading. If you look at my Netflix queue, it's all documentaries. But it's also helped It's wanting to see, you know, kids learn and have it be excited about doing it and do it in a way that they want to do it. So it's also the the idea of like, when you're coming in choosing a course, in our company, which is, of course that you're interested in, you want to do, and you want to spend your extra time learning more about, like, Great, let's provide you like, yeah, a kid wants to go learn something like, Yes, let's do it. Thanks. So, um, it's important to really, really like it, I just think that if you seen it, like you said, like, there's a lot of people who want to do something, but haven't necessarily been in the classroom or things of that nature. It's like, if you see what it's like to see a kid, either, you know, be really excited about something that they learned or recognize their own potential, or have someone sees more potential in them than they see in their self, whether they weighed in on the gap yet, but they know it exists. Like, all of those things are things that, you know, will, if you have that experience, it'll change you. And you'll go like, Oh, well, this is amazing. I guess I gotta keep doing this, like, find a way to do this as a job. Well, and don't be ashamed that it feels good to help, you know, there's a lot of research on this phenomenon called the warm glow. And that's just human nature. And that's why people when they start to do it, when they start to volunteer, they, they become, they become involved with mentorship, or they start giving to an organization, that's why they keep doing it. Because once you start, you just want to keep doing more, it feels good, you know, you see the impact you're having on people and organizations and, and that's really, you, I can see that you're really driven by impact, you know, it's like, what can I do? I want to solve a problem. And it can be little problems, it can be big problems, but certainly this sense of like, I love how you say it, like, you know, what does it mean to operate as a person, which is, you know, you drove your desire to teach, and but certainly this concept you have around, you know, just a holistic person. And I want you to talk about a project that you're doing a podcast, that's probably going to make our little podcast look kind of amateurish. But, but in the spirit of that, so tell us about it. Because I know, I know, Cal Poly folks are gonna want to listen in on on one of one of their own. So, yes, so I started a podcast. My last name is nation. So it's conversations with nation. I love that. How long did it first of all, how long did you have that title before you knew if you would put it on a book, a podcast, a band name? Oh, wow, immediate last minute change. So I had been working on the back end of creating the podcast and creating the digital art for it and figuring out how I want to release for probably about four or five, six months ish. Like, it wasn't a thought for a while before. But then until I actually sat down and started to do work, and it had a completely different name, up until about a week before I released. That's great. I love it. It's perfect. Um, but yeah, it's a it's a podcast about like, let's have very honest conversations with the intent of creating community. Really, it's I want people to understand that other people are going through similar things, even if it's not the same. It's similar. And it's also meant to like kind of inspire you to really think about how you're moving, and what are the choices that you're making, and kind of also give insight and wisdom. And I really try to come with different perspectives, as well. So all of it is just I think of a topic that I think is important. And I go find people who I know, have a very like, rich understanding and experience in that topic. So I did, you know, major life transitions. And so I took it from the perspective of someone in the middle of a life transition. And someone who went through a very intense life transition is now on the other side of it and doing very, very well. And kind of like what that experience is like. So if you listen and you're in the middle of your transition, if you're at the end of it, if you're at the start, you can go like yeah, like somebody else feels this way as well. Along with my second series is on being black in education. And I want it to also come from that from the perspective of some of us that are very rare, so me as a black woman in education, but I actually stem. Yes, chemistry, taught chemistry. But I interviewed a friend of mine who is a black male in education. He's a dean at a K through eight. And that is very rare as well. A friend of mine who is also a black woman education, but she's also not originally from this country. And so she has the sight of like, what it means to immigrate In here and going through the school system, as someone who has immigrated into this country, I did the humanity or the human behind the art. So interviewing people that are creative, so artists, musicians, but like, let's look at the humanity of us. Because a lot because when you become on the front of the stage like that, you become a consumable product in this very capitalistic. Yeah, we lose sight of you are a person. And you are you are going through things and what this experience was like on the back end, because by the time as a consumer that I receive you, you know, you, you've done years and years and years and years of work and preparation, and all these things and failures and coming back up and having highs and lows. And I think it's important for us as consumers of other people's art to understand that these are people, and that, it's, as someone who just created a project and put it out into the world, for a podcast, it's terrifying to put to take a part of you that you create and give it to the world that you know is going to, some are going to love it, some are going to critique it and all those things, but it's with the intent of helping and healing. So that's where Matt just started this year. So I'm up to episode I will be Episode Seven will release tomorrow. Wow, and your Episode Five online. So look at us newbies, I can't wait to check it out. And I think it is such a fantastic example of giving. And that's what you're doing, you're using your vulnerability. And that's, that's your capital, you know, and it has power and, and it has meaning and, and that's just so important for us to think about the things that we do for others, the sacrifices we make, and the ways we contribute, that may be about money, or maybe about our time or our talent, but it's often about our ideas, you know, and just being willing to share and, and kind of like what you are demonstrating this, these emotional journeys, it all makes a difference. And it all, you know impacts people in positive way. So you are an inspiration. And I know everybody listening is just going to be so proud of what you're doing and how you're taking your career and, and focusing it on on service and your own growth. And it's just really wonderful to hear your story. And we all wish you tremendous good fortune festival. So I really appreciate you coming on today. And you know if you need any Cal Poly folks on your podcast, you can just reach out. I'll I'll I'll do some work to get Seth on for you. That would be a great episode. Thank you so much, Britney. Thank you. Thank you. Thanks for listening today. Join us every two weeks for more interviews featuring the remarkable work you do to make the world a better place. If you have any ideas for upcoming guests or want more information on how to support the programs and projects featured in any of the podcasts in this series. please get in touch. Use the link in the description below. Or email me at kdilwort@calpoly. du