I am from Georgetown, Guyana in South America. I was born and raised there until I was nine then I moved to NYC. My parents were born there, too. Once in NY, I lived with my mother, stepfather and my three half- brothers. I was very competitive growing up. I really liked to race with my cousins. I would even challenge them in singing. Once I started high school, I did a lot of sports because I hated being inside. I put myself in extracurricular activities like track, lacrosse, softball and so on.
I had a lot of ideas when I was young about what I might grow up to become. At first I wanted to be a teacher, but then as I got older I realized I cannot teach someone else’s kid. While in high school, I applied to the Earth Institute of Columbia University’s and Lamont-Doherty’s Secondary School Field Research Program (SSFRP) because I really liked science and I knew that I needed something to keep me engaged during the summer. This program was the highlight of my summer and it really helped me carve out a path in the STEM field.
I started SSFRP the summer after my Junior year of high school and I’m still involved with it as a college student. With the program, I started with a team that focused our project on phragmites australis. We were basically outside the whole time cutting down phragmites. We were a new team and we didn’t really know what to expect. We were experimenting by getting rid of the phragmites to see what impact it would have. The other team I joined was the plankton team which was a startup team and the battery team which was another startup. We were essentially trying to figure out how to construct a battery using a type of bacteria secretions to power items like a car battery or phone battery.
This summer as a college student I’ve returned as a leader to intern with SSFRP. A co-leader and I are in charge of a team of four high school students. We are on the nutrients team. So far we have developed really strong data and the scientist that we’re working with is really pleased with the results. This summer my experience is distinct because I am a leader and I am working with a teacher. Through this experience I’ve learned that sometimes being a leader means stepping out of the leadership role to give space for your students or others to become the leaders. After all, this is their project and they are the ones that are going to present on this research. It’s also a great experience because if my students want to do the program again, I am the one who is building that stepping stone for them if they would like to continue. Two of the high school students I took under my wing in 2015 while on the Battery Team
These leadership skills have helped me thrive in college since I’m on eboards for different clubs. As a shy person who is not a fan of public speaking, I know that without SSFRP I would have never become the leader that I am now.
I am a rising senior at SUNY Potsdam. I really don’t want it to be my last year because I love it so much. I am an Environmental Studies major with a minor in Biology. I’m still figuring out what I want to do with my degree. Each time I intern and work with SSFRP, I gain more experience and clarity about my future with STEM.
To me the NYC Science Research Mentoring Consortium and SSFRP builds a lot of meaningful connections. Before I started interning with the SSFRP program this summer, I wrote Dr. Bob Newton, the SSFRP Program Director, and told him how I was not sure what I wanted to do after graduating college. Do I get a job? Or, do I go to grad school? So he referred me to the scientist I’m now working with, Ray Sambrotto. As I am interested in water quality, and Ray does this kind of research, we were able to have a really relevant and helpful conversation. We talked about graduate school, all the experiences and skills that I will need for this career path and all of my different options. I love that these kids will also have these types of connections to collaborate with authentic scientists. This is just truly amazing.