What was the most impactful aspect of your OTF experience?
The most impactful aspect of my OTF experience was the Black in Geosciences meetup. Getting together with other BI/POC who have successful completed their degree to become geoscience professionals in the public and private sector as well as in academia was very inspiring. The attendees provided insightful advice that served as encouragement for me at a point where I was approaching the end of my undergraduate studies, and contemplating what my next steps would be. Before attending, I was somewhat anxious about my capacity to thrive outside of the classroom setting once I’ve finished school. The opportunity to speak with others who were pursuing graduate and doctoral studies, to hear about their background, research, and ambitions was rather reassuring.
What do you remember most from GSA 2022?
I remember the social interactions and connections from participating in OTF. It gave me a sense of belonging; I think because this was the very first conference I ever attended. It felt surreal being surrounded by people who were as excited as I am about geology. I had an opportunity to network with peers, attend lectures about the fields that I am particularly interested in, and to learn about the kinds of research that students as well as professional geologists are performing.
What was your mentorship experience like?
The mentorship experience helped me to realize that everyone’s journey is unique. In particular, the interactions when I attended the Women in Geology presentation and listened to the stories about how they became successful in their field were very encouraging. What stood out to me is that there is really “no absolute or right way” to begin a geoscience career. For the most part it could depend on luck, networking, taking a chance to be open to new work experiences, or even stepping outside the field that appeals to you the most. Success comes with much uncertainty and is driven mostly by the individual and their ambition and drive.
Would you consider returning to serve as a mentor?
I am only in my first year of graduate studies so I don’t think that I have the experience necessary to be a mentor yet, but when I am at that stage in my life when I think that someone could benefit from hearing my story, I would definitely step up. When I set out 10 years ago to obtain my B.Sc., I didn’t know how the journey would go or where it would take me. Looking back, I am pleased that I have been able to achieve this goal and graduated with my B.Sc.–Geoscience in December 2022. As evidenced by my non-traditional pathway, I would just like to reinforce the idea that it’s never too late to follow your dreams if you just keep working at it.
Why should donors support programs like OTF?
Without an OTF sponsorship, I would not have been able to attend GSA 2022, so I would ask donors to support programs like OTF. For many students and early career professionals, it presents an opportunity to learn from others, network, and make connections that can be of future benefit. Whether you are considering further studies or research and looking to find a school that might be a good fit or discovering what others in the field are doing, you can create those links by attending conferences. If you’re trying to decide on a career or academic pathway, you can network with others in the field. You can also discover new equipment and technology that is being developed and could be useful tools for your research. However, you need to be there for this to happen and that is why OTF grants are important. For OTF participants like me, attending GSA is a life-changing opportunity, which is only made possible through the generosity of the donors.
I want to say thank you to the GSA OTF and the GSA Foundation for making it possible for students like myself to attend and to have such a remarkable experience at GSA Connects.