Students from French, Nygaard and Peters heard about their different career paths, educational backgrounds, and experiences.
Jalonda Combs, Northside STEM Programming Director, Northside STEM, emphasized the usefulness of this board to her students.
“It’s important to be able to see that there are different opportunities. Even if they don’t” [in athletics]Combs said, “They still have other opportunities to be involved in the sports industry, and the ability to understand an IT and math background… that will support their career later on.
“Things are constantly changing, always evolving, so we exist to provide students with early exposure to STEM programming,” Combs added. “If we can plant these seeds early, we can give them different opportunities to connect with people in the same profession.”
After the staff-led committee, Vikings receiver KJ Osborn and safety Camryn Bynum greeted the youngsters.
The couple spoke happily at their side, signing autographs and posing for photos with students and adult leaders alike.
Bynum and Osborne spent over an hour at the Teen Tech Center to connect with young people and seize the opportunity to enjoy technology.
“It was fun,” Osborne said. “It was a smaller event, so I was able to walk around and talk to people one-on-one. It was great. Talked to some kids – met a bunch of boxers, the soccer team, some kids working on tech and seeing what they were doing. It was a good experience.”
“Growing up, I wasn’t interested in technology besides playing video games,” Osborne said sarcastically. “But I went to boys and girls’ clubs, so we did a lot of pool, bumper pool, those kinds of activities. The tech stuff was new…I learned a lot. I had fun.”
Bynum joined a few older teens inside the recording studio. He got tips on using the Garage Band to create some tunes, and easily answered candid questions guys had about his first season in the NFL.
“A lot of the things or appearances of community service that we do are ‘hello bye,’ and that thing we have to hang out here, play music with some kids, and just interact with them,” Bynum said. “I would ask them questions, and they would ask me questions, and I could share my life experience with them.”
Bynum, who is himself a music lover, stressed the importance of fans understanding that athletes are much more than the sport they play.
“I think they are able to see that we are all human,” Bynum said. “They are able to hang out, ask us questions and get advice about school and football. They would ask me what the NFL was like, and I was able to tell them that. At a young age, I didn’t have it. I didn’t know any NFL players Growing up or hanging out with anyone, so being able to give that to them was huge.”
Osborne appreciated Best Buy Teen Tech Center’s model and focus on academics.
“I grew up in boys’ and girls’ clubs, anything like that where kids can come in after school, make new friends and experiences and memories, and conserve energy, those things are always good,” Osborne said. “There’s also education involved…and they have mentors and people helping them. It’s all really great for kids, especially at this age.”