During his monologue, a specific picture caught my eye. In one of the background pictures, I recognized someone I met back when I went to Chiapas, México in 2007: Dr. Joseph Fail Jr. (RIP) from Johnson C. Smith University. I will always remember him as the one who taught me the K.I.S.S. principle - Keep It Simple Stupid!, the privilege of being bilingual in the sciences, and above all the one who emphasized the importance of keeping a journal in the field (a la Darwin and Leopold). As Dr. Drew was speaking, I reminisced on the reason why I left my "medical career" behind- as an undergrad , and decided to study the beautiful science of Ecology.
When I got home that afternoon, I got the urge to check my email and search: "Chiapas". So many memories that I had put in a black box inside my head started to emerge. Until something popped up. It was something I had written 3 years ago, just before finishing my master's degree:
"It could be a cliché to say that travelling to México with SEEDS changed my life, but it truly did. Today, instead of pulling all-nighters in med-school, I find myself trying to figure out how to set up ecological models or what can I do to disseminate science, or writing. I feel that this love for learning and for what I do was transferred to me from my mentors and other SEEDS members. Now that I have a year left to complete my Master’s degree I truly understand the importance of mentoring and encouraging individuals to pursue their goals. As an undergraduate I was able to perform two roles, that of the mentee and the mentor (for school children). Today, I follow the same path by joining a program where I serve as a tutor for high school students. Being a mentor should not be forced; it actually comes naturally when one truly has the interest to share experiences and good advice. Being a mentor should not begin with fixed expectations, but building a trustworthy professional relationship and inspiring each other to be better scientists and citizens. There is no perfect mentor, but with a constructive attitude and encouraging words, a mentor can have a positive impact in a person’s life, such as it did for me. It would be a blessing to keep working with what SEEDS stands for: Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability. "
Who knows where this journey will take me, sometimes is hard to immediately see the benefits of completing a PhD. It is not easy. I'm surrounded by brilliant people, and that is a good thing - it reminds me that I need to step up my game, to walk the talk. But, it can also be intimidating. Thus, I can never forget why I started this journey in the first place... and this month, I got a reminder.