Patricia Rivenburg went from feeling trapped in a small town to working with professionals across the Capital Region before turning 18.
“It’s like living a double life of living in the middle of nowhere, but at this time of day, I’m interacting with new people in the [Capital Region],” said Rivenburg.
Throughout her childhood living in Cairo, Greene County, she was the only child living on her street. “Growing up there, it’s very easy to feel like you’re trapped there and you’re not getting out,” she said about living in the rural Catskill area.
Much of Rivenburg’s interests in the rural area, such as science, were introduced to her at an early age from her parents. She believes that the knowledge passed down from her parents helped her skip eighth grade science. “My teacher told me to stay behind one class and said, ‘You already know everything that we’re studying so we’re going to jack you up to earth science,’” said Rivenburg.
As Rivenburg grew older, her parents looked at moving her away from Cairo-Durham High School to Tech Valley High School [TVHS], based on their disapproval with the school’s approach to academics. “Cairo-[Durham] did not academically do me justice as a base education,” she said. TVHS is a technology-focused institution in Albany, open to school districts across the area.
After funding was cut from the school district, Rivenburg was unable to get into TVHS during her freshman year. She had to to stay at Cairo-Durham High School until tenth grade, when space opened up for another student from the school district.
Although Rivenburg struggled with math-based curriculum at the school, she credits her experience at TVHS for building professional skills. “It taught me not only how to dress professionally and act professionally, but also how to bring up previous experiences appropriately in order to make new connections or strengthen old connections,” she said.
At TVHS, Rivenburg spent her time interacting with leaders across the private and public sector. While visiting the Marvin Library’s previous civil rights display last October, Rivenburg encountered Congressman Paul Tonko for the first time since her junior year at TVHS. “I saw this huge group of people and of course, being human, I got nosy, so I thought, ‘Hey, I know him. I’m going to say hi,’” said Rivenburg.
Prior to entering lab space in the Science Center last fall, Rivenburg had 100 hours of lab experience at the Wadsworth Center in Albany from an internship coordinated with TVHS. Rivenburg recalled impressing classmates with her experience at Hudson Valley. “My grades are still very average, but I’ve had classmates come up to me and say, ‘You know what you’re talking about,’” she said.
With her education in biology, Rivenburg hopes to spend her future back in high school. During distance learning days at Tech Valley, Rivenburg would help teach students at Cairo-Durham. “I loved being able to have this group in front of me that I was able to keep entertained and actually have learn something,” said Rivenburg.