News & Blog

DEI Program Reflections by Joscelyn Wooden

Posted by kmyule on August 8, 2023 - 11:02am in Undergraduate Students

This experience was so much more than I ever could have imagined. To build a little
background, I am someone who has always struggled with self doubt when it comes to my
place in the STEM career path. The persistent habit of constantly comparing myself to others is
something I was very acquainted with, and struggle with sometimes still, but this program flipped
some kind of switch within me. The first day of the program I was feeling intimidated like always,
but the level of comfort provided by Kelsey (on top of a REALLY cool introduction tour of the
Natural History Collections building) made me not only feel at home, but it made me feel a great
sense of self relief; I had found my comfort space. From the people to the curriculum, it was a
joy to experience. Not to mention getting paid to camp and collect bugs? LOVE THAT!
The wealth of knowledge and experience I gained every single day of the program is
something so valuable I can't think of a monetary equivalent, it is that priceless and special.

Joscelyn learning during plants week in the herbarium

Whether it was plants week with Liz, mammals week with Dakota or Laura, or insect week with Andrew, Evan, and Sangmi, we were given great experiences and knowledge that helped us in more ways than one. Three of my favorite section was the DNA, Insect, and Bird week we spent with Jay, Evan, Andrew, and Sangmi. They are such incredibly knowledgeable people and super friendly! I loved those weeks so much I asked myself if I wanted to pivot from ecology and seek out an entomology or ornithology centered career. I just finished an animal behavioral study on Arizona's Great-Tailed grackle and my choice was fully influenced for my new found love of bird watching, shoutout to Jay!

Joscelyn and Alexander view a lizard, photo credit: Laura Steger

I really could go on and on about how fantastic this program is, but I would like to
continue to thank you all for the experience, connections, and friendships I was able to receive
throughout this program. I will carry this experience with me for the rest of my life, and there are
no words grand enough to thank you all for that.