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5 Questions With Selena Lopez McKenzie, Program Manager and Experience Designer, University City Science Center

1. What did you want to be when you grow up? How’d you get from there to here?

My journey has been a thrilling adventure, brimming with unexpected detours. Once, I aimed for pharmacy, envisioning lab coats and medicine cabinets. But as I delved deeper, my heart steered me toward understanding people, embracing learning, and giving back to our community.

Psychology emerged as my guiding star, unveiling the mystery of the human mind and the excitement of perpetual discovery. This led me to early childhood education, where young minds fueled my own curiosity. Higher education’s call followed, focusing on shaping the student experience.

Through it all, my passion for people, learning, and community remained at the center. Diving into nonprofit management with a focus on innovation and collaboration felt instinctive. Today, I stand at the intersection of ideas, connecting innovators and entrepreneurs. It’s been a journey that reflects my passion for progress and constant exploration.

2. How are you helping to build a more connected community?

BioBuzz’s mission is simple: to be more connected. Our regionally-focused storytelling, programs, events and experiences create, connect and amplify impact across the life science workforce in growing biohubs. We vibe with people who value community and connection like us. We’d love for you to share how you’re building a more connected community… and any support that you need from our community to continue to accomplish this mission.

I’m dedicated to strengthening our sense of community. My personal mission is to breathe life into isolated moments by building a vibrant innovation network that highlights our community’s hidden potential. I thrive on pooling collective wisdom to ignite meaningful change. Ultimately, my aim is to pave the way for a future where we all thrive together.

The significance of physical space in fostering community is often overlooked. As an Experience Designer, I specialize in crafting spaces that spark engagement and bring people together. While rooms themselves might not change, we have the power to reimagine how we use them. I’m focused on intentionally designing spaces that convey a clear message – you belong here, and your presence is truly valued. These spaces mirror the future we’re striving to create, reflecting the interconnectedness we aim to nurture.

In this journey, social capital is nurtured one room at a time, one gathering at a time. The most impactful conversations – those that foster a profound sense of belonging – unfold when citizens actively participate and that’s exactly what our community does best. You can be a part of this journey by joining us at our Thursday gatherings, where your presence and participation would greatly support our vision!

3. What are currently buzzing about? Anything and everything…

Right now, my garden is the source of my excitement. This summer marks my third year, and finally, the hard work is paying off with an abundant yield. It’s like seeing the literal fruits of my labor – a reminder that consistency brings rewards. The garden isn’t just about plants; it’s a reflection of life’s ecosystems and lessons. It’s been my daily dose of connection with nature and everyday life.

Venture Café has me buzzing too! I’m looking forward to our upcoming fall programming, where we’ll be delivering a fresh wave of engaging events and opportunities for our vibrant community. It’s all about fostering connections, sparking innovation, and making things happen together.

Here’s what else is buzzing:

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin: (no spoilers please! I’m still reading my way through)
Ted Lasso: More than just a fabulous show, it’s an uplifting reminder of the power of optimism (yes, I know I am late to the Apple TV subscription, if you’re still on the fence, this is your sign to go for it!)

4. If you could travel back in time – what early career advice would you give yourself?

OR What career advice would you shout from the rooftops now?

Looking back, I’d tell myself: Stay open to possibilities. My journey taught me that embracing change leads to unexpected opportunities. Leading at Venture Café, I have seen how curiosity sparks connections. So, if I could shout advice now, it’d be: Stay curious, stay committed, and embrace the unexpected. That’s where the magic happens.

5. FUN question. If you were animal, what animal would you be?

I’d choose the eagle. Their soaring nature and sharp eyesight embodies clarity, spotting opportunities from above. Eagles, emblematic of freedom, reflect my drive for embracing new horizons and experiences. Fun fact, eagles are significant in my life – I’ve got an eagle tattoo as a constant reminder. And there’s an elephant tattoo too, symbolizing the balance between eagle-like independence and elephant-style community. All of this reflects who I am at heart.

Media Contact:

Kristen Fitch Headshot 2024

Kristen Fitch

Senior Director, Marketing