Students as Mentors

I am such a believer in the power of mentorship.

Personally, I am lucky to have an incredibly strong network of mentors – women and men who provide me with scientific conversations and collaborations as well as friendship, support, direction, and kindness. I frequently remind my students that I am learning from them – just as they are learning from me. In some cases these lessons are scientific – often they are teaching me how to be a better communicator, teaching me about the power of humility and openness. My most recent lesson came in the form of conversations with my students and their families at graduation. My students are also my mentors.

This graduating class is the class I started with at Colorado College. As my friend Elizabeth Coggins (Political Scientist extraordinaire) stated in her baccalaureate address — these students are our “original cast” of our time here. They have played a huge role in my life and have shaped my experiences – both good and bad – of my first years at CC. Even though I know that their departure is a success, it is  hard to say goodbye.

Plus, this year there were so many goodbyes! I had the sincere pleasure of congratulating sixteen EV advisees, five PROGRESS mentees (Alana Alamodt, Sierra Melton, Kelsey Maxwell, Maggie McKinley, &  Savanah McDaniel), and of course the six awesome seniors I worked with over the course of the last year or two on research: Emily Cain, Fiona Cerf, Asheton Gilbertson, Emily Komie, Alice Oline, & Delaney Tight on quite an amazing list of accomplishments. I also got to meet their friends and families.

Just a tiny sampling of what they will be up to next year: Alana will be the Innovation Paraprof, Sierra earned a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and will be starting her graduate work at Penn State, Kelsey will be working for Environment America, Emily is joining the Peace Corps, and both Asheton and Delaney earned PIFP Fellowships and will be working with CO based non-profits next year.

Family members had googled me and read about the work I do with the Earth Science Women’s Network and were so appreciative that I was their daughter’s thesis adviser. They gave me hugs… at each event. Tight purposeful hugs. I will admit on several times I had tears in my eyes as they thanked me. It was such a lovely reminder of why I do my job: my #1 passion project: training the next generation of badass women scientists. I am so appreciative.

Now as I read their cards I realize that while I often feel like I am treading water and barely keeping up … they see someone who “seamlessly balances a million different things while still making time for [my] advisees” as someone who “never gives up”. While I often wonder how open I should be about my lack of certainty (i.e. I am not sure, this project is based on a very educated guess I have) – they see it as an “inspiration.” I sincerely hope  that I can live up to the person they think I am. The person who “gets shit done and doesn’t take shit from nobody in the process.”

To those amazing members of the CC class of 2018 – you know who you are – thank you for inspiring me, holding me accountable, and letting me part of your learning adventure. Please keep in touch.

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