The Good Word | By Jon Cooper
This is the first in a summer-long #TGW series featuring student-athletes participating in the 2018 Fifth Street Bridge Program, Georgia Tech athletics’ summer internship program. For more on the Fifth Street Bridge Program and a full list of this summer’s participants, click HERE.
Cameron Stanford is a natural at repairing things.
It’s what she does.
Last spring, as a freshman, Stanford filled the vacancy Georgia Tech softball had in left field. She also helped jump-start the offense, leading or sharing the team lead in batting average (.292), doubles (13), slugging percentage (.549), walks (32), and on-base percentage (.419), ranking second in hits (42) and total bases (79) and finishing third in homers (8, one off the pace). Stanford saw her repair work within the context of the team’s success -- the Yellow Jackets finished over .500 for the first time since 2012, won five ACC series and returned to the ACC Tournament.
“It’s crazy how great a year it has been, even for the whole team,” said Stanford, who ranked among ACC leaders in doubles (third) and walks (tied for fourth). “It’s great to see hard work pays off. I can see what potential our team has in the future and am really excited about what’s coming up the next few years and seeing what we can accomplish. I think we all are really focused on that goal of making it further in postseason. My class, we definitely have a lot in store for the program. I’m looking forward to seeing that.
“My teammates made me feel comfortable and I focused in on just keeping it simple,” she added. “A couple of weeks into the season, I started getting the hang of things and the game became a lot more simple. So it definitely helps you to remember it’s just a game and you’re able to play relaxed.”
This summer the all-ACC selection will have a new set of teammates in answering a new call to fix things, as last week, she began a summer internship at the Georgia Aquarium.
“I am in the life support systems department. It’s kind of the engineering side of the aquarium,” she said. “If anybody needs any help building something or fixing something, something breaks, the department I’m interning in is responsible for getting it back up and running, make sure the habitats and exhibits are running properly.”
Just like with Georgia Tech softball, Stanford is learning that she has to walk before she can run and is in the learning stage, taking in all the information that she can.
“Right now they’re just trying to teach us where everything is,” she said, with a laugh. “We’re still learning the lingo, what kind of stuff goes on to make everything run properly. Eventually, the group of interns that I’ll be a part of, probably should be building new filters to help new exhibits be put in place. We are going to be responsible for setting up some new environments.
“The department kind of responds to stuff when it breaks so I’m not exactly sure what I’ll be doing every week. So that’ll be cool,” she added. “I’ll get to show up and it’s like, ‘What am I going to do today? I don’t know.’ So that’s the kind of environment I’m in right now.”
Being around water and sea life is kind of new, but is an environment she’s grown to love.
“I have spent most of my summers playing ball in the field so I would say I’m not around water all that much but I do appreciate the aquatic life,” said Stanford, who used her last winter break to earn her scuba diving license. “It’s a peaceful place to be. I like it.”
The Alpharetta native knew she had an affinity for the Georgia Aquarium at a very early age.
“I went to the aquarium for the first time in second grade for a field trip and I absolutely loved it,” she said. “I always thought the aquarium was cool. I would love to apply what I’m learning at Tech, engineering-wise, to something that’s cool. It’s really great how it’s worked out.”
She’s counting on making a difference through her internship for those on both sides of the aquarium’s glass, the sea life that are on exhibit, and those watching -- maybe even a second-grader seeing the aquarium for the first time.
It’s what drives her and makes going to work exciting.
“The whole point of the aquarium is to spread knowledge and bring the ocean to kids that are landlocked, bring the ocean to someone that maybe hasn’t been able to explore it before,” she said. “I definitely hope to do that for kids that come to the aquarium.
“I hope to inspire some sort of club to help the ocean or appreciate what’s left in the ocean,” she added. “I absolutely love it. Everybody there is amazing. I’ll eventually get to build something towards the end of the year to give back to the aquarium, make it better.”