Stanford University freshman Mark Berger isn’t exactly sure what he wants to major in just yet, but that’s ok. The university doesn’t require that he make that decision until the end of his sophomore year.
“I don’t know what I want my career to be but I’m interested in science, technology, engineering, and math [STEM] education for Native and other minority students,” he told Indian Country Today Media Network.
Right now, Mark is enjoying exploring his many options, both in the classroom and out, at the university in Stanford, California.
The 19-year-old Oneida Indian Nation member is looking into joining Stanford’s chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society as well as the Model United Nations program. He’s also interested in a program where university students travel to San Jose to tutor Native grade school students.
“There is a tremendous amount of opportunities at Stanford and I am going to explore as much as possible until I find what interests me the most,” Mark said.
He’s not new to Model United Nations programs either. While a sophomore at Manlius Pebble Hill School in Dewitt, New York he won an international award for delegate excellence while in Montreal, Canada for a Model U.N. event. He traveled all over North America with the program as well and served as undersecretary general for his school’s Model U.N. conference during his senior year.
“I helped coordinate and plan a conference attended by over 300 delegates from upstate New York,” he said.
And upstate New York is where his heart is and where he plans on coming back to, regardless of what career he ends up pursuing.
He has always been involved with his tribe and doesn’t plan on stopping just because he decided to move across the country to attend college.
Mark has been involved with the Oneida Nation’s Youth Work Learn Program since he was 13 and has spent the last three summers working at Four Directions Productions as an intern.
“Working at Four Directions has been an amazing opportunity that has allowed me to work with many talented people on a variety of projects,” Mark said. “As an intern I worked closely with the cinematography department where I helped film footage of the PGA Tour, the Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge, and a variety of documentary pieces for the Oneida Indian Nation. I was also able to learn a little bit about computer animation from the animation department at Four Directions Productions, which works on turning Oneida legends into short animated films. It ultimately sparked my interest in how technology can be used in education and cultural preservation.”
His advice to other Native American students is to “take school seriously and give one hundred percent in everything you pursue,” he said. “Also go to the library and read a lot of books about whatever you’re interested in. The ability to teach yourself, no matter what the subject, is an incredibly valuable skill and being a strong reader is the keystone to that skill.”