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Meryssa Piper in the fieldMeryssa found meaningful exchanges in opportunities such as the mentor relationship provided by OTF.

What was the most impactful aspect of your OTF experience?

This is a tough question. For me there were a few “most” impactful aspects of my OTF experience. One was hearing the first-hand experiences of established scientists in a very raw and vulnerable manner. Another was being paired with a mentor that made time to meet with me each day and provide me insight and encouragement. Lastly, having an opportunity to meet others throughout the room during OTF really helped provide familiar and safe faces throughout my conference experience.

What do you remember most from GSA 2022?

My most memorable experience during GSA would have to be career day. This opportunity not only taught me much about building different résumés to market myself in the future, it also allowed me to have conversations about my future interests with a wide variety of individuals established in both academia and in industry.

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

I cannot speak highly enough of my mentorship experience. Not only was my mentor just absolutely fabulous in every way possible, but having someone external to discuss positive and negative experiences as well as brain/panic dump to was something I didn’t realize I needed. I would absolutely consider returning to serve as a mentor.

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

OTF allowed me to make more personal and professional connections and really build a connection. I can see contacting many individuals I met during OTF for future support and also as collaborative colleagues.

Why should donors support programs like OTF?

Donors should consider supporting programs like OTF because the graduate retention rate and early-career struggle is abundantly clear. Programs like OTF are crucial ways to begin addressing student and early-career needs for support. Providing students with external support will not only provide them greater opportunities for advancement in the field, but also will provide support for issues that they may not feel like they are able to get from within their department or university safely.


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