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Kyle Merandi in the fieldKyle Merandi found a deep sense of community while attending GSA Connects thanks to OTF, which helped them immerse themselves in the broader GSA community.

What was the most impactful aspect of your OTF experience?

The most impactful aspect of my OTF experience was the sense of community that I found while attending the conference. Between the guidance provided by my mentor and the conversations with the peers I met during the various events, I feel more immersed in the GSA community and geosciences at large than I ever have. Having worked my entire way through college, I feel this experience helped make up for the networking and conference opportunities I missed out on throughout my undergraduate pursuits.

What do you remember most from GSA 2021?

The single most memorable moment from GSA 2021 was the welcome message that was read out at the LGBTQIA+ event from a member who could not attend this year. Hearing them recount events past—one year, the event consisted of two members meeting at a bar after the conference events ended for the day—and looking around at the amazing turnout at an official, sanctioned social event, gave me immense appreciation for how far we have come.

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

My mentor was an excellent resource during my time at the conference. He really took the time to hear my story, and used my goals and previous experiences to steer me in the right direction for sessions to attend and people to speak with. This being my first time attending a conference, I’d imagine I would have been slightly overwhelmed without the framework that OTF provided for the experience. I absolutely would consider returning the favor and mentoring others in the future.

After your OTF experience, how do you see OTF influencing or impacting your future?

The connections I made through the OTF program have been so rewarding. I hope to keep in contact with the friends I made and watch them grow in their careers and various pursuits. Getting the opportunity to talk with so many different people and share our experiences and knowledge is something that I hope to bring forward in the rest of my career.

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

Getting this opportunity was invaluable. I don’t know that I would have had a chance to attend GSA 2021 otherwise, let alone gain so much from it. If you believe our field can benefit immensely from bringing a more diverse group of people into the fold, putting your support behind programs like this is an excellent way to do so.


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