Brighter Days Ahead
Learning when to step back, leap forward, and relish in the growth that is often overlooked by my own being.
Marine Pollution moving to Solutions
Taking OCEAN409 and putting my communication skills to the test with Classic Plastic and SWAY alternatives
This quarter, I prioritized taking the exciting electives within my double major pathway for Biology and Marine Biology. In the world of Marine Biology, I decided to take my oceanography elective, OCEAN 409 (Marine Pollution) this quarter and had an absolute blast! My favorite part of the course was the final group project, where my group and I made zine books and a poster focusing on rising seaweed-based alternatives to plastics. Since the course was so well organized and facilitated, much of my usual trials and tribulations associated with simply figuring out what the heck was going on in class were completely non-existent for this course. I had SO much fun learning about the top 6 topics of marine pollution (Plastics, Metals, POPs/EOPs, Light Pollution, Noise Pollution, and Ocean Acidification).
This course really helped me realize what formats and course organizations work for me as a student. Considering I had decided this quarter would be the quarter where I prioritized skill growth in my extracurricular life, I loved having the flexibility to decide on assignment formats and work on worksheets/lectures at my own pace. Even halfway through my undergrad experience, I'm still constantly learning new things about myself and how my brain likes to tackle academic challenges. Figuring out how my brain compartmentalizes tasks has been a huge help for me this quarter, and I credit much of this discovery to my experience in OCEAN 409.
My last year as an Honors Peer Educator
Serving as a Lead PE to close out my time as a Peer Educator
As the Spring comes to a close, I’ve also concluded my last Peer Educator spring seminar for my time at UW. I plan on studying at Friday Harbor Labs in the spring of my junior year in 2024, so I will not be returning as a PE later in the autumn of that year. While this is incredibly bittersweet to me, I’ve seen so much personal growth within the past 10 weeks alongside my fellow Peer Educators, especially in terms of my ability to rise as a mentor/leader within this amazing group of leaders. Two of the main goals I mentioned in my Retreat Reflection that pertain to my time in the PE spring seminar have seen massive improvements. I’ve grown more creative and personalized with my lesson plans, figuring out how to integrate incredibly personalized alternative activities into my plans, inspired by my own experiences and learnings as a student myself. I look forward to observing the reactions of my Honors 100 students later in the fall and wish to refine and expand my ideas as I navigate the Summer and the additional experiences that await me. With my other goal of being a more collaborative and welcoming player within the cohort, I genuinely feel that I’ve developed an incredibly close connection with everyone in this PE cohort. There is something SO special about the people within this cohort that I could have never anticipated. Going into the quarter with the expectations of the 2022 PE experience was ridiculously nerve-wracking for me for whatever reason, but I made it my goal to make this cohort even more friendly and supportive as a collective. This year, I’ve been able to share my insights as a previous PE and heard amazing feedback from folks who looked to my lesson plans for support and inspiration. Knowing that I could be a helpful tool or resource to this year’s first-year PEs was very heartwarming and let me know that I had been doing the right work thus far.
I learned that my development as a student and as an educator is forever an evolving beast. To this day, I consistently ask myself if my experience warrants the acknowledgment I’ve gotten as an LPE or second-year PE. However, the impromptu discussions we’ve had in class about the experiences of past PEs have given me the reality checks I’ve needed as a new LPE, and made me realize that I indeed have insights to share and that my efforts were valued beyond simply creating lessons and facilitating activities every now and then.
I still carry a weight of questioning around myself in whatever I do, and learning to combat this onslaught of second-guessing myself is a hard-earned skill I believe I will learn more about as I navigate the remainder of my undergraduate career. I’m at the point in my academic career where I have seen myself come out of incredibly dark places and challenges. Simply reassuring myself and trusting my own abilities by telling myself “You’ve done it before, you’ll make it out alive in the end” is my go-to. This self-doubt mindset leaks into every corner of my life, even beyond my academics. As someone who is incredibly passionate about eventually working in the science communication field, I really struggle to fill out bursary applications and lab/workshop applications because I feel that I’m not at the level I’m expected to be at or I will be seen as illegitimate as a learner to the greater professional community. I have the experience, but when faced with a challenge to “prove myself” on paper, my mind forgets it all. Going back to how this relates to my PE journey, I believe that practicing “inventory work” as a learner can help me battle these thoughts and quickly identify the experiences that truly are significant to my journey as a student learning to teach, communicate, facilitate, and connect effectively with others. I've recently received plenty of messages and DMs from some of my first Honors 100 students, inquiring about certain experiences and advice, hinting that maybe I can make these effective connections and serve as a genuinely helpful resource for others.
With this said, I think the activity/discussion I found most helpful was about the “How to be a Confident and Effective teacher” reading and the affirmation sheet along with it. So much of presenting and teaching is mental, in fact, all of it is aside from the practical speaking skills that can elevate your pitches. Simply acknowledging the emotional weight some folks are carrying as first-time (or even returning) instructors is incredibly validating and makes me feel less alone in the journey to discover my potential as a PE. This type of discussion is absolutely essential early on in the PE journey, and I’m incredibly thankful for the amount of support I’ve gotten in this adventure and cannot wait to see where it takes me next.
BIOL 305 and Getting Out to Create
On the topic of fun electives for my double-major route, I took up BIOL 305 this Spring, a video storytelling/science communication course taught by Dee Boersma. Overall, it was an AMAZING time even at my experience level coming in. At the beginning of the quarter, I had heaps of excitement and inspiration from my experience at the Wildlife Camerawoman Retreat. Filled with new ideas, a massive list of professional development "to-dos", and a burning desire to simply do more, this class would be the ultimate opportunity to learn new skills, practice my weak points, and earn credit for the SciComm journey I was already undertaking.
Over the course of the quarter, I made three mini films. The first was a PSA about SANCOOB, a bird rescue and rehabilitation facility in South Africa. The second (my favorite!) was about the penguins of Antarctica. Lastly, my final project film featured the Galapagos. All of these projects used my instructors pre-filmed footage from her many years of exploration and learning, thus my experience in the class was heavily based in editing practice and script writing and development. Worst of all was making my own voiceovers. I hate my voice, which is a shared sentiment by every human being ever, but this class literally forced me out of my comfort zone to keep creating and practicing this incredibly niche but helpful skill. I have to say, after blasting my ears with my voiceovers from many hours worth of editing, I hate my voice a little less!
Even though my experience in the class focused primarily in story development and post production work, it did also inspire me to go out and shoot my own footage more often. Once example is the video to the right of a gull I found at the Seattle waterfront, scarfing down a WHOLE sea star!
I intend to keep shooting and practicing more with the skills I've picked up on through my time in this course. The fruits of my labor have certainly paid off, and I was recently invited to Peer Facilitate the class for the rest of my academic career here as an undergrad at UW by my instructor. It was incredibly meaningful to see the message from my instructor and TA, and I thank them for such kind words regarding my passion for the field and willingness to grow no matter where I started the course. Hopefully, my addition to the teaching team in the next 2 years will bring new students another layer of support as they navigate filmmaking. My connections with the natural history world will also prove helpful for folks looking to follow this line of work in the future as well! I'm incredibly grateful and excited for it all, and I cannot wait to see where my journey in this scicomm format takes me.
Looking back on Spring 2023
It has only recently hit me that I'm officially halfway through my undergrad career. More folks are blabbering these classic lines:
"What are you doing after school?"
"Ever considered grad school?"
"Girl what the hell are you even majoring in anymore?"
I NEED TO BREATHE!!! I don't want to be an ADULT-adult yet!!!
There is absolutely no doubt that this undergrad adventure has brought me to strange places, but I'm incredibly happy and grateful for every wacky turn because of it. As a general overview, this spring was PACKED.
First off: I lowered my credit load. That was probably the best conscious decision I could have ever made for this time in my life. I committed myself to the "cool" electives I've been eager to take and to my development as a Lead Peer Educator for the honors program. Even more exciting was that I committed myself to a season of skill-building and doing more of what I haven't been able to do because of time sake in past quarters. I was finally coming to a front with my internal battle of feeling like I "wasn't doing enough" or wasting credits. This is the quarter I would discover the power of stepping back to blast forward with force, and break down the excuses that have been holding me back ll this time.
I began this quarter at a retreat with my fellow Peer Educators during a retreat in Pack Forest. Aside from frolicking in the wilderness, painting "unique" images and words with our cellphone flashlights and my long exposure camera, and chowing down on some of the best camp food ever, I got my first tasks of lessen facilitation as a Lead Peer Educator. Walking our cohort through common classroom scenarios and reflecting on personal strengths was a unique experience as an emerging Leader-within-leaders. Overall, I got to discover what fuels my energy as an educator, and now as a mentor, to new educators. Identifying exactly what fuels and drains me is something that would help me along the rest of my spring journey.
On the very same weekend, I was rejected from my dream scholarship/internship program (NOAA Hollings) after nearly 1.5 years of application preparation and even more years (since high school!) of eager anticipation. What hurt most was that I felt like I had a fighting chance and had heaps of support and expectations from many folks around me. I learned so much about how I deal with disappointment, and how to deal with it in succession. Evidently, the rejection hit harder than anticipated, and I broke down after finding out that something I cared so much about wasn't going to work out. To be fair, I was already discouraged with my rejection from the E/V Nautilus program earlier in March and felt incredibly lost as to what else I could possibly do to be "good enough" for the folks behind the screen. Funnily enough, I got my reviewer comments back nearly a month later and discovered that there was no piece of constructive criticism or distaste whatsoever. I learned a critical lesson, passion sometimes cannot displace probability. A "truly amazing applicant" cannot combat the doings of time and alignment, or misalignment in this case ;)
Rebounding with extensive practice in my filmmaking practical skills and theory in my free time has enriched my experience as a learner and science communicator thus far. I've taken my newfound communities and networks to heart, taking advantage of panels, workshops, and webinars as I navigate the incredibly niche world wildlife filmmaking. My role model/idol in the industry even asked me to be her assistant! She even connected me with the Golden Globe Race winner to design commemorative merchandise! Connecting with people has powers unmatched by anything I've seen before.
I've grown by leaps and bounds, but not by the metric that I'm used to. There is no GPA measurement for the skills and emotional gratification I've acquired thus far. This was the quarter I prioritized passions and acknowledged my inner desires to push myself and my abilities. By finally bringing myself peace from my downfalls and extending grace to my schedule, I was able to do AND MAKE some incredible things along the way.
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