Alumni Spotlight: Gina Varamo

Making Science Education Fun At Nova

Varamo+worked+with+girls+at+Science+Club+for+Girls+to+make+LEGO+mindstorms+during+their+Young+Leaders+in+STEM+summer+program.

(Photo courtesy of Gina Varamo)

Varamo worked with girls at Science Club for Girls to make LEGO mindstorms during their Young Leaders in STEM summer program.

Megan Gill, Editor in Chief

Gina Varamo (Class of ‘09) is the Outreach Manager for NOVA, the national science documentary series produced at Great Blue Hill (GBH) Boston for Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).  She works on the education team and oversees many different jobs at once.

Varamo gets to provide younger people with STEM and related educational opportunities.

During her time at Warren Hills, she said her favorite classes led toward the more creative classes, such as Journalism, Film Design and Spanish. She was also part of the tennis team for four years and newspaper staff for three. Varamo reminisced on when she would stay after school to work on the newspaper and how even if she stayed for a long time, it would make her happy.

“My second year on the paper, I remember being the layout editor and my third year I was Editor in Chief,” she said. “I spent many hours after school or during Study Hall with Mrs. McKinney finalizing photos, pages and copy edits, and that brought me so much joy.”

While Varamo said she had a great time in school, she was iffy as to whether or not it prepared her for the career she is in now.

“The entire reason I got into Journalism was for community education. I was thrilled that as a journalist you could have a variety of new experiences,” she said. “I went to Emerson College in Boston to major in Print and Multimedia Journalism thinking I wanted to be a food writer.” 

Varamo said the thing that finally made her question her career path is when she “went back to the paper that winter [at Emerson] and almost never left my desk as all my reporting was done via the phone and I was miserable. I didn’t realize how much I valued being on the ground in communities and establishing in-person connections.” 

Varamo finally started volunteering at a nonprofit organization that taught physical and emotional self-defense and she knew that’s what she wanted to do.

When she found her job at NOVA. she saw it was a perfect fit because “it seemed like a nice mix of all my interests – science, education, journalism, public media.”

Varamo recalled some of her most interesting moments on her job, one of which proved embarrassing.

“I planned a national, sneak peek event for our new series, Beyond the Elements for a live audience of 1,600 people.  He [the moderator] kicked off the panel discussion with a question for our host, saying, ‘David, you’ve done this for about 18 or 19 hours of NOVA now. When are you going to get good at this?”’ she said., “Later, he asked our Nobel-prize winner why she hasn’t achieved more. Now, he was obviously joking, but tone is so, so important. This was an opportunity for an incredibly rich discussion and those jokes definitely didn’t land.”

Varamo also said she has had some fun times while working as well.

“The most fun thing I’ve done has been hosting virtual events,” she said. “I got to co-host an interview with Christian Cooper, the birder in New York City who had the police called on him in May 2020 [for asking a woman to leash her  dog].” 

Varamo also said that days when there are lots of people are stressful, but they usually turn out okay.

“The day of screening events are always a bit stressful, but really exciting to see everything fall into place as it happens,” she said. “It’s great to see a packed house of 400-500 people eager to learn more about science and technology.” 

For people who want to pursue a similar career path, Varamo advised to not be afraid to experiment with new things.

“Career paths are not at all linear and not at all static! You can always pivot and change what you want to do. Your high school or college interests don’t have to dictate what you do for the rest of your life,” she said. “I mean, it’s a little crazy that we’re supposed to know what we want to do with our lives at 18-years-old—there is still so much to explore and experience. Don’t be afraid to reassess where you’re at, because interests change. It’s okay, and it’s totally normal!”