Partnerships for Life

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I want to tell you about a walk I recently had…

This winter/fall has been very mild in the Appalachian Mountains of Asheville, NC. To be honest, I have missed the snow, but the moderate temperatures have allowed me to play outside much more frequently. One day in early December my husband, Andy, and I went for a walk around Lake Powhatan, starting at Hard Times Trail (it sounds a bit ominous). It is a clam, pretty, forested area with many paths of varying difficulty. By chance, we came across a path that led into the NC Arboretum. Normally, it costs several dollars to drive into and park at the Arboretum; so, this was a lucky find for us. We continued our adventure down several paths on the Arboretum’s property, one of which had plaques that told me about how different plants and animals co-exist. Some relationships were parasitic, some commensalistic, and some mutualistic. I had always grown up hearing about parasitic and symbiotic relationships, but these plaques gave a me a new outlook on life in the forests of Western NC. Commensalism is where one subject gains from the relationship and the other subject neither benefits nor is harmed. Mutualsim is where both subjects gain something out of the relationship. Parasitism is where one party gains and in the process hurts the other party. My walk through the woods on that beautiful December day was very educational and thought provoking.

My partnership with the mentors of Student’s Discover has become life changing. My eyes have been opened as a teacher and as a woman. I had the pleasure to work with several female scientists, and I wouldn’t have changed my experience for the world. My first mentor was the beautiful Dr. Julia Stevens; however, she found a new position and moved on (like all post-docs must do). My new mentor is the charming Dr. Christine Brown. While we are still getting to know each other, I am so relieved to be working with such a determined and helpful professional. All of the other people in our Microbiology Lab were all WOMEN! I loved every minute working with these brilliant women.

What I saw in that lab is that women can be kind, gentle, loving, passionate, intelligent, genuine, excited, encouraging, and anything else they naturally are, and they still can thrive in the science community. Women do not have to act or look like a men to thrive in their chosen science fields (that are often dominated by men). These women have ignited a passion in me to keep learning and go back to school to further educate myself in science and realize any dreams I might have.

I do hope that the employees at the museum are able to keep in contact with us educators, and I hope very much to keep in contact with both of my post-docs to see what else we can learn from each other. Because I hope our relationship has been more mutualistic rather than parasitic. 🙂

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