Camille Bass

A young Camille Bass fought hard to carve out a place for women of color in the tech industry. Working under the mentorship of Renee Anderson, Oregon MESA’s first director, Camille worked as a math tutor for middle schoolers, studied engineering on a full ride scholarship at Portland State University, and scored an internship at one of the tech giants of the day in 1987: Tektronix. Camille looks back at the experience now with fondness, pride, and humor: “I did find out what I’m really good at.” Camille first discovered MESA at her high school in Seattle and was excited to see Oregon MESA starting up in Portland when her family moved and she transferred to Grant High School. At the time, she wanted to be a biochemical engineer and her experience at Tektronix was a rush: she had to take three busses to get there, got to wear a bunny suit and work in a clean room, and marveled at the fact that she was treated like an adult. “I learned a lot about being a professional setting and working at a desk job,” Camille says now. But when she went back to her engineering classes, the ones she fought so hard to get into, she realized she was bored. “It was like squishing a square peg in a round hole,” she says. Medicine, she says, was her love and she now serves as an assistant manager at an integrative health practice and a performer. The confidence she gained in part through her involvement with Oregon MESA made her comfortable on stage, and she realized she was much more a people person than a devotee of numbers. “Everyone has something to share,” she says. “My journey is not going to be the same as everyone else’s but there’s room to take advantage of the opportunities that MESA provides and make it part of your own story.”