This weekend back in the States is the graduation weekend for semester college students. I can’t attend my graduation since I am abroad in New Zealand, and I am also on a quarter system, which means we graduate in mid-June. Given this, I still feel a part of me has graduated early when I moved away from San Diego this past December. I said goodbye to my research labs, wrote notes to my favorite professors, and thank you’s/ goodbyes to all my friends through dinner dates, coffee time, and short adventures that I will cherish for a long time.
Away in New Zealand provides great opportunities in reflection and development. Not only academically speaking but also soft skills in intercultural communication, time management, and adaptation to unfamiliar surroundings — all character building opportunities that contributes to a stronger person I will become. I still have the feeling of missing out on the graduation and senior year experience spending time with the friends I have grown to love in San Diego. Adding to that, saying goodbye to the close mentors and mentees I had been working with for years was a very difficult task. Even though I have left during the summer time before to fast-track and focus on projects outside of lab work, I found myself needing strong adjustment to physically be apart from the labs and not implementing those regular routines in my schedule.
While being in New Zealand, I am still working on my projects with my mentors Tom and Richard. I also have my regular classes/ research duties with Chris and Gina. I am so thankful to be a part of the research community and constantly learning and brainstorming about science. A part of me can always still go into the science community and feel comfortable growing through scientific communication. While on the topics of mentors, I found myself missing what it means to be a mentor to others. My physical presence in these mentees lives had made a large, positive impact on them to feel welcomed and comfortable in the community — but their presence in my life had shaped the way I think and how I carry myself.
The other day I bought a poem from the poet, David Merritt, that titles “if you ask” in which the first line starts with “if you ask me I will always have an answer…”
this line gives me a strong sense of who I am as a mentor. I always try to give an answer, which “I don’t know” is also an acceptable answer — many times with relevant contact or persons information to give to my mentees. I try to be a reliable mentee and mentor. Thankful to my mentors, professors, mentees, and friends from this period of life. Thank you for helping me grow. I can’t wait to see what comes next.