To complete this assignment, we asked BSP students to pick four prompts from three lists and complete the sentences. Then, they were asked to use those three parts to craft their own unique stories. Here’s the example I gave them using my own story.
- I grew up in a dysfunctional family.
- I loved exploring nature, especially at my grandparents house on the Texas Gulf Coast.
- I struggled with feeling that I belonged.
- I enjoyed reading, dancing and running.
- I now see that being out in nature was healing for me.
- I realize I found a sense of belonging in nature I couldn’t find with people.
- I discovered that learning as much as possible about the natural world feeds my soul.
- I now know that my desire to write about science for the public is my way of offering healing to them.
- I see myself as a communicator, an ambassador and a healer.
- My future includes finding new and fun ways to do those things.
- I will seek ways to express my whole self, spiritual and scientific.
- I will create opportunities for others to do the same.
I spent most of my life feeling like I didn’t belong. I didn’t belong in my immediate, dysfunctional family. My mother drank and was verbally abusive. My father smoked pot and was emotionally distant. Feeling love and getting affection were rare. I didn’t belong in my extended family, either. I was not Mexican enough for the Mexican-American side and not Puerto Rican enough for the Puerto Rican side. That feeling only continued when I became one of the few women of color in my undergraduate classes and in my graduate school department.
But, growing up I found my sense of belonging in nature and in books. The time I spent exploring the channel that led to a bay in front of my grandparents’ house and the salt marsh across the street were healing for me. And, if I was back home in Austin, I could find refuge in books and school work. When I became a science writer, it was a combination of the two things that made me feel whole. At first I saw myself as a translator of science for the public. But, now I also see that I can be an ambassador for science, sharing with the public what the culture of science is like — for better or for worse. The chance to change that culture for the better by working for Knowinnovation is a happy surprise I had no idea was waiting for me all along.
Today I realize that to be an ambassador you have to feel comfortable in many worlds and to know that you just need some familiarity. I don’t have to belong to one world or another. Now I don’t even want to. I now enjoy when people can’t figure out where I’m from or looked surprised when they learn I have a Ph.D. in science. And now I have my own healthy, happy family and I fit right in.