What was the most impactful aspect of your OTF experience?
Growing up I was told to graduate high school, then college, get a job, get married, and that is that. But hearing the diverse stories at OTF and during GSA as a whole, I realized that journeys are non-linear. No two stories are the same. They are full of twists, turns, heartaches, joys, and moments where we have no idea what to do. This taught me to appreciate what I do have and simply take my time. So stories, stories are the most impactful aspect of OTF.
What do you remember most from GSA 2022?
Stories were the thing that impacted me the most, but the people—the faces behind every story are what I will remember the most. The joys, enthusiasm, and simple passion for their work were the sparks that inspired and nudged me back toward my geoscience journey.
What was your mentorship experience like? Would you consider returning to serve as a mentor?
The mentorship experience was extremely helpful, especially for someone like me, who was unsure of my pathway (pre-OTF). My mentor, Dr. Paul Harnik, had us meet almost every day where we discussed my future plans, possible pathways, and his experiences and research. Hearing his advice and life story was crucial for me in mapping out my journey. If given the chance, I would 100% return and serve as a mentor. We as geologists and scientists as a whole are storytellers. This means we not only have the honor of sharing the stories of the past, present, and future, but we also have the honor of sharing our experiences with people. And to me, everyone’s story is important.
After your OTF experience, how do you see OTF influencing or impacting your future?
OTF has helped pave a possible path for my future. I was debating whether or not I wanted to pursue grad school, but because of OTF, I am now on that trajectory. Moreover, I wouldn’t have access to all the important networking experiences, connections, and programs. In a way, it has also helped me break the shell formed during the pandemic. I want to meet more people in my field, and I want to continue learning the diverse stories all around. Now, I am even more motivated to help people/prospective STEM students by providing them with the networks and connections I’ve never had.
Why should donors support programs like OTF?
Before OTF I was lost and unsure of my career choices. I was discouraged because a lot of people around me were already starting their careers and then there’s me. I was a struggling scientist and author who was constantly unsure of himself. And fortunately for me, OTF came around and nudged me back on a path I can be proud of. Strong foundations are crucial to every organization, group, or project. Geology is no different. For our science to continue to grow and reach people, we need to foster that growth. We need to nudge people who are lost and guide them. OTF is one of the ways we can do this. Through OTF, I was given the necessary funding to journey to the GSA convention in Denver. A trip I wouldn’t have made otherwise. OTF has allowed me to grow connections (old and new), and friendships, and gain experiences that I will take with me into my future career.