SEA Currents: Woods Hole Partnership Education Program
July 28, 2017
Woods Hole and Looking to the Future
Despite all the research and social experiences I’ve had as part of the PEP program so far, the past couple of days of being in the program have me setting my sights beyond this summer and even beyond graduating college. Several days ago we took the time to attend a panel of WHOI graduate students working on their doctorates, to hear what they had to say about preparing for graduate school. Their frankness and sincerity really surprised me; I haven’t heard so much heartfelt and honest advice from other students since my first days in college, and as time passes by in my college career, the more I find myself giving that sort of advice rather than receiving it. Sometimes when I think back on my college career I feel old and haggard– both good and bad experiences have served as milestones for my journey, and looking back on them make me realize how far I’ve come since I left high school. I imagine the graduate students we spoke probably felt something similar– seeing our fresh faces and answering our questions must have brought back memories from the beginning of their graduate careers or even when they were assessing their options as undergraduates, and I’m glad they were so eager and forthcoming to share their experiences with us.
Just this afternoon I had a long talk with a scientist about his work and his career, and listening to his reflections on his own life gave me a new perspective on where to take my life after college. Among the biggest epiphanies was that when my professional career begins I’ll be able to set the scale of the area I’d like to work. Being around Woods Hole and Cape Cod, I’ve been ruminating on what towns I’d like to live in or what beaches and estuaries I think are the most interesting to perform scientific research and work within a member of the community, yet in college I love to read articles about studies and communities from all around the world. Indigenous Sama people in Indonesia, Inuit people in northern Canada, and hunting communities in Russia all have different perceptions of animals and of nature as a whole that I’d love to continue to learn about. By setting the scale of my work to an international scale, I’d be able to learn about any of these cultures and even work with them. There’s a couple of drawbacks in committing myself to international work, not the least of which is the danger of pretending to be a hero and working to implement solutions without carefully studying the problems first. Even so, being able to see the practical effect of international research on a local area is hard, and it seems the work can quickly become frustrating. Yet I think being able to travel the world to appreciate diversity both socially and biologically is too good of an opportunity to pass up, and I’m looking forward for my chance to explore and experience the things I’ve read and talked about firsthand.