Volunteering with Citizen Schools means you get as much as you give.

Mehmet Kanik embodies all the enthusiasm you would expect from a first-time volunteer. Not only has he brought his work from Research at MIT into the classroom, he also draws energy and confidence from the students he teaches. Mehmet is conducting research and was recently published in Science Magazine, for the same fiber-based artificial muscle samples he brought into the classroom.

His original inspiration for volunteering was to make sure students understood that his path is absolutely an option, no matter where you come from. Mehmet hails from Turkey and cites the moments of recognizing diversity among students in the classroom and volunteers as a great achievement. In fact, it was rare to find a student who was born in locally at Collins Middle School, in Salem, MA.  

Not only did his participation with Citizen Schools inspire students to consider research and science a pathway to career opportunities, he also received as much as he gave.

As Mehmet explains

“I was so stressed because my work was under review. I had doubts about my work, if it’s good enough to be published in Science. When I saw the light in the eyes of my students, then I was confident. I was completely convinced that my work is worthy of being published.”

When it comes to professional work, he’s hoping that other volunteers will be encouraged to bring their STEM-related career into the class, so students can make real life connections. He says, “When a middle school student understands your work and gets excited, then you feel that this is for everyone.

Interested in volunteering with Catalyst: