San Diego, California
A great wave of relief. A heavy burden lifted off of one’s shoulders. A weight taken off one’s chest. This is how I thought I would feel after defending my master’s thesis at San Diego State University. But, to be perfectly honesty, I felt… nothing. I felt no different than I had before. It was an honor to present my work to my committee, department, colleagues and family. Was I nervous going in to it? Of course. But, as a graduate student I have already given more talks than I can count, why should this one be any different?
But, now that I’ve had some time to reflect, I must admit, I do feel a little overwhelmed. I’ve been at SDSU for three and half years. I cut my teeth as a scientist here. I learned how to teach, take data, analyze results and write papers. I learned how to peer view with objectivity, and to scrutinize… everything. I’ve learned when to share my thoughts and when to hold my tongue. I learned more about myself than I thought possible. But most importantly, I’ve learned that I know I don’t know enough. I’ll take that challenge head-on, in due time.
However, what I do feel right now is inexplicable. For the last three and a half years I’ve worn many hats. But when asked about, “what I do”, I simply tell the enquirer that I’m a graduate student. Well, no more (at least for now). I’m elated to announce that I’ll be working as a California Sea Grant fellow with NOAA's Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary starting in early 2019. This challenge will be like no other, and I’m excited to rise to it. But, I still can’t shake this subtle feeling of losing my identity. I’ve been so insulated in the world of academia. It’s time to shake off the dust and rejoin the rest of the world.
It’s been a wild ride here at SDSU. I’ve traveled around the globe, sticking my face in too cold water in the name of exploration and research. I’ve gotten to collaborate with colleagues from endless institutions, countries and disciplines. It has been an honor to work with the next generation of scientists, and to contribute to the body of evidence that helps explain the natural world. It’s been a rollercoaster to say the least, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
I’m not signing off, not by any means. But I might be taking a step back for the next few months. But I challenge you to keep exploring, to keep asking questions and seeking answers. And most importantly, I challenge you to look at the world with eyes full of wonder. As a scientist, as an explorer, as a citizen of planet earth.
Cheers for now!
Baron von Urchin
Pike Spector is currently a Research Operations Specialist with Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary