I think so many kids are afraid that they aren’t good enough or not smart enough and it’s not their thing. But they come here and the environment is so fun, that they try it … and they realize that they really can do it, so we are giving them confidence. —Beck Harding, vice president of communications at Junior Achievement
SALT LAKE CITY — In 2011, Brittani Uribe attended Best Buy's Geek Squad Summer Academy at age 17 with plans of becoming a dietitian.
Eight years later she is living her dream as a Geek Squad agent who thrives in the field of technology.
"It opened my eyes to a kind of different side of technology. It made it very apparent that I could do other things besides being a doctor or a lawyer or anything like that," Uribe said. "I just literally switched out of everything that had to deal with health and have been in technology ever since."
The Geek Squad Academy is a nationally acclaimed program that teaches kids how technology can lead to a future of career opportunities. The squad travels to 40 other cities throughout the summer and landed for the third time in Salt Lake City Wednesday.
The $80,000 in-kind donation from Best Buy allowed Junior Achievement to partner with Discovery Gateway to host the two-day event that included 146 kids between the ages of 9 and 14.
The event was a success, according to Beck Harding, vice president of communications at Junior Achievement, who said she's seen a big difference in the students' attitudes towards technology.
"I think so many kids are afraid that they aren’t good enough or not smart enough and it’s not their thing. But they come here and the environment is so fun, that they try it and they realize that they really can do it, so we are giving them confidence," Harding said.
Karsynn Hobbs, 10, was one of those kids who was afraid at first but said her friend Sadie Badger made her feel comfortable.
"I was kind of scared at first because I’m not really the smartest person and I didn’t think I’d know anything, but I guess I kind of knew some of the stuff because Sadie explained some of the stuff to me," Karsynn said. "It made me think about what I want to be and how I want to do it."
According to Sadie, who is also 10, the camp has influenced her goals for the future.
"It's just really, really fun," she said. "I want to do a lot of 3-D printing when I grow up."
The camp breaks the kids up into five groups, which rotate between five classes that focus on robotics, digital music, digital citizenship, script writing and movie making as well as 3-D printing.
Dani Mongeon, a Geek Squad employee, taught part of the 3-D printing class. She said that before she knew it, the kids had become the teachers.
"We were trying to teach them how to make the roof of a house and they were bypassing us. They were already making doors and windows. We were like, ‘Oh OK. Looks like you don’t need us,'" Mongeon said.
The best part of the camp, according to Uribe, is seeing the drastic changes in the kids' desire to learn during the two days.
"To see the kids go from being very shy to wanting to talk to you, it’s a humbling and rewarding feeling that you made a difference that day, for that kid, or you might have made a difference in the long term for that kid," Uribe said.