Friday Chit Chat Vol. 9 | Summer Reflections

I’m sitting here at the local UCSD Starbucks, sipping on some vanilla iced coffee, and just enjoying my last few minutes of calm before the storm that will be a crazy senior year. I’ve been kind of postponing writing this Friday chit chat because of the excitement of finishing yet another internship. It’s time to reflect on what was an incredible summer. So if you are interested in learning about some of the personal lessons and reflections that have come from a summer on the Pacific, keep reading!!

Pipe up, pipe down.

So, I am horribly quiet when you first get to know me, especially in a professional setting. I’m not the whose always talking or who has something to say every minute of every day. It’s something that I’ve been working on for what seems like my entire college career. Most of the time I don’t speak up because a. I don’t think what I have to say at the moment is particularly worthy of leaving my lips and occupying space or b. I don’t know if what I have to say is “correct”. You can just call me a professional second-guesser. I am such a deep critic of my own thoughts and decisions that it can sometimes be stifling.

This summer I had to force myself to speak up and sometimes be one of the first people to offer up an opinion. I guess this is what being a rising senior means. You are no longer at the bottom of the totem pole and you actually have some experience in your field. Things almost start to feel comfortable. I’m so ready to take this into the year and really start developing those communication skills even more. It’s nice to see that it can be something that you grow into, and for anyone out there who constantly gets frustrated because they are frightened of speaking up for fear of getting shut down: people are 10x more likely to remember that you spoke up more than missing some minute detail that made it wrong. Just my opinion, though.

I have to live in a city after graduation.

San Diego is absolutely beautiful and it’s a major city in California aka MY DREAM. La Jolla is a little bit slower paced so I think it’s a great environment for pursuing graduate studies. AND, there’s so much to do here at least when you have access to a car. I have to say that I liked Los Angeles a lot more. Oops. I can’t tell you how much I was living my best life when I was in the city of stars, but I could definitely see myself living there for a portion of my young life. UCLA, anyone? Sorry, Mom and Dad.

I already had a pretty good inkling that I want to graduate school in a larger city because while I love Chapel Hill; there really isn’t much to do and even Durham and Raleigh are too small for me. This was the perfect transition from my suburban hometown, but I’m ready for the big leagues. Ultimately, the question becomes East Coast or West Coast. I guess we’ll see!

Take care of yourself.

A big thing that I’ve realized is that it’s okay to take breaks and not be stressed out 75% of the time. I’d like to thank the California vibes for this; everyone seems to be moving a slower paced but still cranking out so much good work. I’m also one of those people that go at 100 mph for an extended period of time and then I just crash. Like hard. So, it’s nice to see that you can slow it down and still be pretty accomplished and productive.

Personal days are so crucial and I’m going to be sure to schedule [haha, don’t worry I’m still me] some in from time to time. It’s nice to just breathe.

We need more UNDERREPRESENTED minorities in science.

You know what the craziest part of my entire summer was? I only ever saw 1 or 2 black folks during my entire time working in the lab and walking around campus. Now, I completely understand that San Diego has a high Hispanic and Asian population, but this is why I have such a hard time really being able to see myself being successful in science. There are little to no Blacks/African Americans in faculty positions. It really does suck because a. it’s hard for me to find relatable mentors who can empathize with being discriminated against in the workplace [which does happen] and b. imagine the pressure of having to prove yourself at every single freaking turn. Here’s the sitch: IT AIN’T FUN.

You know this sort of thing has alway pushed my buttons and really caught my interest in trying to figure out how to increase representation in STEM. Fun fact: I took a career assessment test and it said I should consider science policy. AND YOU KNOW WHAT… it may be onto something. Now, I’m not the strongest when it comes to knowing everything about politics and how science plays a role in that. But, I’ve gotten really into following the news and being active in discussing today’s issues ever since coming to college. I think that this could be something that I really want to do, and you all know I love D.C.

I am so thankful to have had yet another opportunity to fly across the country, travel, and do research at another top institution. You need to travel, studying abroad, and/or do research away from your home institution. This is where I think I’ve learned more about myself outside of academia and outside the professional world. How to navigate the cities with limited transportation options, how to cooperate with roommates I’ve never met before, and how to ask questions and get the answers I need without panicking or getting frustrated.

That’s what this summer did for me? What did this summer do for you?! Sound off in the comments; I love love love hearing from y’all! While y’all reflect, I’ll be jumping on this plane back to the east coast! Where did the actual summer go?

keep on keepin’ on,