A Reflection on the Summer

A Reflection on the Summer

As I ready myself to leave behind the tight embrace of Skagway’s mountains for, eventually, the pleasant rolling hills of southern Indiana, I recall a conversation I had with my mother a few weeks ago following another bout of self-doubt over my coastal waterbird project: Eres muy brava, Isabella. Has tenido que ser muy fuerte para andar viajando asi sola.”  

I laugh when she says this. My mother and I have had this conversation several times over the years, a reminder to quell the anxiety and imposter syndrome that live in my periphery. Brave is a strong word, I explain. She reminds me that road-tripping across the country or moving to Alaska alone for a summer would have never been an option for her. I remind her that she was the one who immigrated this country with little money and no functional understanding of the language. 

I didn’t understand the meaning of that conversation until I trudged exhausted to the summit of Mt. Ripinski. Looking out onto the jagged, snowy peaks in all directions, I realized that I had climbed higher than anyone before me and that I didn’t even have the words to communicate the awesome power of what I was seeing to my family back home. 

The summit of Mt. Ripinski.
A juvenile bald eagle.

I’ll be presenting my analysis of coastal waterbird richness and abundance during the spring migration next week in Washington, D.C. The weeks of frustration I’ve spent working independently and wrestling with MATLAB code has lent me a certain degree of confidence and satisfaction in my work. My summer at Klondike Gold Rush NHP has shown me that I’m capable of tackling challenging work and problem-solving independently. I’ve seen traits of my favorite supervisors and crew leads in myself when I’ve led a group of volunteers on bird surveys, and doubt about my ability to make a career in this field has become a more foreign feeling. 

While I’m looking forward to my presentation at the Department of the Interior, I’m more excited to know that my parents will be watching online that morning. Ten minutes is very little time to express the troubles and triumphs of my summer, but I hope that my energy will be enough to communicate to them what I often fail to say in words. 

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