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Emily True, GSA President Barb Dutrow, and Lisa Manlick at GSA Connects 2021Before OTF and GSA Connects, Lucy Manlick had impostor syndrome regarding their place in the geosciences. Since then, their confidence in geology has exponentially increased and they feel more confident in their abilities and coursework, and feel even more prepared for graduate school.

What was the most impactful aspect of your OTF experience?

There were two parts of the On To the Future program that I feel were the most impactful for me. Firstly, OTF paired me with a mentor who talked with me about my graduate school plans. She helped to advise me on my applications and potential career path, and connecting with her helped to acclimatize me to the conference. This leads me to the second most valuable part of this experience for me: attending the conference itself. Without OTF funding, I would not have been able to attend the GSA Connects 2021 conference. I had never been to a professional conference before this, and as an undergraduate senior, attending in-person had many benefits for me. The networking, résumé help, professional talks, and academic growth I gained by attending GSA Connects 2021 will go a long way in helping me on my academic journey.

What was your mentorship experience like? Would you consider returning to serve as a mentor?

My mentorship experience was very valuable, both through my OTF mentor and through the GeoCareers mentorship center at the conference. My OTF mentor helped me to better picture what graduate school will be like, and advised me on my personal statement and CV for applications. The mentor I connected with during the drop-in résumé workshop has also been incredibly valuable: she helped to edit my CV at the conference, and has continued to be a source of advice and support as I work on the other components of my graduate school applications.

I definitely think that I’d like to return as a mentor someday in the future. To ensure that I could have the greatest impact on my mentee, I would only volunteer after I have made more advancements on my academic and career paths. As a mentor, I’d like to be able to help my mentee network, and I’d like to help advise them on any academic goals. Because it will take time for me to gain this experience myself, I expect it will be a while before I feel prepared to volunteer as a mentor and give the best advice I can.

How do you see OTF influencing or impacting your future?

My OTF experience has had a significant impact on me, and I expect that it will continue to do so. OTF provided me with the means to attend my first professional conference: as an undergraduate student, this not only introduced me to cutting-edge scientific research, but also helped me in developing my network and my ability to develop poster presentations or presentations for my own future research. Before attending the conference, I don’t think I could have put together a research poster. After attending the conference, I feel that I could not only present a poster, but I could also give a presentation. This sort of professional development, combined with networking at the conference, will stay with me for a long time: professional skills and networking will benefit me greatly as I make my first steps into the graduate and early professional stages of my career.

The direct impact on my future is not the only influence that OTF has had on me. The significance that donors and GSA put in the time and effort to not only support me monetarily, but also with a mentorship, makes me feel welcome in the geoscience community. Before OTF and GSA Connects, I had impostor syndrome regarding my place in the geosciences. Since OTF and the conference, my confidence in geology has exponentially increased; I feel more confident in my abilities and coursework, and feel even more prepared for graduate school. This is probably the most lasting impact that OTF will have on me and my future: it made me feel like this is where I belong for my future career. This confidence and security that OTF fostered will have a lasting impact on me as I forge my way into a future in geoscience.

What would you like to say to donors thinking about supporting programs like OTF?

OTF was an invaluable experience for me to make my first steps out of my undergraduate experience into the professional environment. Without the funding and mentorship that OTF provided me, I would not have been able to attend. OTF helps students like myself to work on our professional development and prepare for the next stages in our careers: if you want to support the next generation of geoscientists, and promote GSA’s mission in diversifying the geosciences, OTF is an amazing program worth your support!

Caption: Emily True (left) and Lucy Manlick (right), OTF Scholars, with GSA President Barb Dutrow (center).

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