There are many recipients of GSA’s Community of Support. You recently read several stories from recipients of GSA’s Field Camp scholarship. To kick off the New Year, we will be sharing stories from participants of GSA’s On To the Future (OTF) program. We had the opportunity to interview five OTF participants about their expectations before GSA 2019 and then how their experience compared with those expectations. We hope these stories take you back to your experiences as a first-time GSA Annual Meeting attendee.
Jazzy Graham-Davis (they/them/theirs), graduate, Portland State University, recently relocated to Sacramento and is looking to start their career in industry. They are currently working as a “mad scientist” teaching young children the foundations of science. Jazzy shares how OTF exceeded their expectations—providing mentorship and networking opportunities, which are essential for students and early career professionals.
Pre–GSA 2019 Questions
What are your expectations for the annual meeting and OTF?
I am going in to the experience with an open mind and not expecting too much, except to be somewhat overwhelmed by all the different presentations, people, and events that will be going on. This also excites me and will push me beyond my comfort zone.
What do you want to get out of the program?
I hope to meet other people who don’t represent the traditional geologist and to learn about their backgrounds. I would love if we were to navigate the meeting as a group rather than just by myself. I also hope to meet people that I will be able to work with in the future to promote diversity within geology, as this is one of my long term professional goals.
What are you most looking forward to?
I am looking forward to the atmosphere of being at the meeting. It amazes me to be around so many smart and talented people who all appreciate geology and want to further the field. Even better would be to appreciate this all with a diverse group of people with goals similar to my own as I mentioned above.
How do you see OTF helping you in the future?
I hope that OTF connects me to people now and in the future that I can look to for advice should I encounter any issues, and who will support me as a geologist regardless of who I am. It is so important to find people who support you for being you, and I hope that I can provide that support to others as well, and find a community of people similar to me. I would love to support OTF in the future as a professional to help up-and-coming geologists find their place within the field.
Post–GSA 2019 Questions
Did OTF meet your expectations?
OTF exceeded my expectations! I wasn’t sure how useful all of the speakers and events would be for me since I am a recent graduate. Even if some of the information I got isn’t something I need right now, it will all be very helpful when I pursue graduate school.
What was the most impactful aspect of your OTF experience?
It was amazing to hear from lifelong members of GSA that people like us OTF scholars are the future of GSA. It made a huge impact on my goals for future GSA meetings and the ways that I would like to be involved. I definitely will be active in GSA throughout my career and would like to do what I can to further improve diversity at these events.
What do you remember most from the annual meeting?
I remember how inclusive and receptive everyone in OTF was. Just seeing the people around me and the different backgrounds that we all came from was very comforting. I instantly felt safe sharing my own struggles within geology and GSA meetings and discussing how we as a community can improve.
What was your mentorship experience like? Would you consider returning to serve as a mentor?
I was able to get feedback about my résumé, cover letter, and career path from many mentors. I can’t tell you how much the mentoring helped my writing and confidence when applying to jobs. It is important to me to make sure that I am on track to have the type of career that I want, and it was so helpful to talk to people who have taken many different paths to where they are today. I would love to come back and serve as a mentor in the future. I think mentoring is key for students and early career professionals to network and make lasting connections.
After your OTF experience, how do you see OTF influencing or impacting your future?
I will use my connections to OTF and the people I met through the program to make nontraditional geologists feel welcome at GSA meetings. One idea that I already have talked to some about is a transgender/nonbinary genders social. I would also like to see more work done on making geology accessible to people with disabilities and providing a community for those people.