For BreyAn Witt, working at For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum through Summer Youth Initiative changed the trajectory of her life.
The Swartz Creek High School graduate was studying to become a medical technician at Madonna University when she realized she preferred working with plants, trees and animals.
At that point, Witt transferred to the University of Michigan-Flint to study wildlife biology and the rest is history. Today, she is pursuing a master’s degree in conservation ecology at the University of Michigan and interning at Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor.
“I had a class at the University of Michigan-Flint where I got to work with trees, so I applied,” says Witt. “I was one of 140 people who interviewed for the position, and only 40 people were accepted.”
Below, read more about this TeenQuest graduate’s current position and how she got there.
What tools from TeenQuest did you use while interviewing for your internship?
I went over my notes from TeenQuest on common interview questions. A big one was, “What is something that you need to improve upon?” It said to use your weakest but most positive trait so that an employer can see that you are working towards improving.
What does a typical day look like for you?
At the arboretum, I typically am collecting tree data. I also have a special project to label and quantify the species and ages of the trees. At the botanical garden, there is a Michigan-native garden and I am tasked with labeling the various plants.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan on pursuing my Ph.D. I would like to teach and conduct research at a university.
How did the lessons you learn in TeenQuest help you on your path to this position?
During the TeenQuest graduation ceremony, my facilitator appointed me to do a speech in front of everyone. That was the first time I ever spoke in front of a crowd that large. It really helped me feel more comfortable and more outgoing.
What is a memorable moment from TeenQuest?
Our service learning project. We went to the North End Soup Kitchen. It really opened my eyes and made me want to help people.
What advice can you offer to current TeenQuest students?
Always go for it. I was a very shy kid, and TeenQuest helped me become more confident. Even now, I didn’t think I would get this internship, but I had the confidence to apply for it.
TeenQuest and Summer Youth Initiative are made possible through the generous support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.