Staff Interview Series: Caryn Graves

This blog post is a part of the YTH Staff Interview Series, where we are featuring an in-depth Q&A with each member of our staff. This week, we’re talking to the clever Caryn Graves, who serves YTH as our Lead Engineer. Caryn has been with the YTH team since 2005, working with the organization on numerous projects and programs that include SMS reminders, websites for health clinics, and social media campaigns. Caryn also has a background in aerospace and mechanical engineering, having earned degrees in each respective discipline. With her diverse portfolio, I spoke with her about her high level of experience working at YTH and what has kept her with us for so long.



ERIN: You’ve been with our organization for over 12 years, helping us with all of our “nitty gritty” work on the technology side of our work. What’s kept you wanting to be involved with our programming?


CARYN: There are multiple factors that make working for YTH so appealing for me, that I’ve stayed with the organization for as long as I have, and yet still continue to want to keep going with it.  The nature of the work that I do, on the technical end of things, I enjoy very much, and feel it’s what I’m best suited for (I’ve honestly often wondered what I would have done with my life if I had been born before the age of computers, as it’s so hard for me to imagine doing any other sort of work).  I enjoy developing code, and seeing it come to life as functioning, useful tools and products.  I also like the process and challenges of problem-solving and troubleshooting.  And over the years at YTH, I’ve had the opportunity for my skills to evolve in sync with the continual progression of web technologies, as keeping current with tech is integral to YTH’s core mission.    


YTH’s objectives, are ones that I very much support.  The health needs of youth, particularly for the more vulnerable and underserved segments that are at YTH’s focus (LGBTQ, youth of color, homeless youth) can be greatly benefited through new technologies.  It’s immensely satisfying to work towards such positive and constructive ends.   


Last, but definitely not least,what has also always been a cherished aspect of YTH for me, are the people I work with at the organization… it may be that this field tends to attract a particularly fine caliber of people, but I must say that throughout all the years I’ve been with YTH, the staff have consistently been incredibly wonderful, and a total pleasure to interact with.  


ERIN: You have a background in both aerospace and mechanical engineering, with degrees in both subject areas. How did you translate this to working on software and in technology?

CARYN: As an engineering student, I had always gravitated towards the computational side.  When I was a graduate student in the mechanical engineering department at Cal, I specialized in computational fluid dynamics (the numerical modeling of fluid flow), and so this is where I got my start with coding.  


ERIN: You’ve called YTH an “ideal outlet” for your desire to apply the latest technologies in innovative ways for good social causes. Why is this?

CARYN: I very much believe in the relevance and effectiveness of YTH’s projects, and in my role at YTH I contribute in ways that I like most and feel best match my abilities.


ERIN: How would you summarize your work with YTH in three words?

CARYN: Satisfying, rewarding, fulfilling.  :)


PS: Download our 2017 TECHsex report to see why young people are using Google instead of doctors for their health.

ZonaSegura ZonaSegura is a trauma-informed youth-centered innovative mobile solution to address teen dating violence in Honduras. Learn more about ZonaSegura on our program page.