Monday, June 24, 2013

She's Becoming Gold: Meet Julie




And now we've come to the end.....make it one for my baby and another one for the road. That's how Frank would have said it. In our case it was desert and coffee. Today is the last installment of She's Becoming Gold. This series has been such a gift. Not only did I have the opportunity to feature four amazing women on Austen Hill, I learned so many lessons from them that I will never forget. If you missed the first three you can read Leslie, Andrea and Karen's stories for inspiration and some fabulous girl talk.

Today, I'm so happy to introduce you to Julie! She's ridiculously intelligent, but balances that with a passion for life that actually makes her a bit of a rebel in my estimation. Take it away Julie!

Background


1. When you were a little girl what did you wan to be when you grew up?


I always knew I was going to be a scientist of some kind. I remember thinking this in elementary school while looking at the stars through my telescope on the picnic table in our back yard in Texas. Before that I was going to be a princess.

2. What expectations were placed on you growing up regarding your eventual professional and personal life? In retrospect, did they inspire or stifle you?

There were expectations for me to do my best. I didn't always feel the pressure of these expectations, but at the same time I have always been a people pleaser, so I probably put expectations on myself. I think it was assumed that I would go to college, but I wanted to go. I really think that most of the expectations I have encountered eventually came from within. But I have let these expectations stifle me to a point. When it becomes too much, I tend to rebel and do unexpected things (which were not always healthy as a teenager). I have done that a lot in my life growing up, so I think that my family is always waiting for the next big move from me and nothing I say or do really surprises them.

3. Describe your mentors and how they have affected you?

I remember people asking when I was in high school about who inspires you most. I never really had an answer for this. I think my early life was spent without any obvious mentors. It was not until getting my master's degree that anyone had a profound affect in my life. My college advisor has been my most influential mentor, and he continues to be to this day. I remember leaving the graduate program a year into it and he sent me an email that said I was one of the most talented graduate students he ever had and to never doubt my abilities. This was very important to me. I eventually came back to the program and received both a master's and PhD with him. Four years after graduating, we were married and I continue to learn from him every day.

4. What was your first "grown-up job" that you landed after college and what did it teach you?

I had a grown up job during college as an assistant manager in a retail store. That taught me to value people and to be a good role model for others. It also taught me a lot of the politics about who gets raises, promoted, etc.. I left that job to go to school full time. After my 10 years in college, I took the job that I am now in permanently. It has also taught me a lot about dealing with other people/personalities, that networking is key to success, and that I want my work to influence lives more profoundly.

5. What was your worst job and what did it teach you?

My best job is also my worst job. It has taught me patience, how to be creative, and to keep working towards my ultimate goals when the end does not look like it is in sight. It has also taught me what I believe in, what I value, and that I want this to reflect in the work that I do.




New Directions

6. You decided to forge a new path by taking a different direction in your career and/or creative life. Describe the moment you knew you were going to pursue your passion and why?

I believe I have always been pursuing my passion, but I am now in a place where I must move on and take risks to keep pursuing it. When I took my current job, I viewed it as a stepping stone; it was useful for many reasons in helping me develop my career and to have independence in my life. But over the last year I have recognized that it is time to push myself and not fall into the rut of "comfortably complaining"- that is, things are known and therefore comfortable, but complaining about how I don't like them without making a change. I have been hearing myself say it is time to move on, but I have come up with many excuses as to why I can't yet. Fear is what has kept me from taking a leap and I can't let it win anymore. 

7. Tell us about your new venture.

I am in the process of transition so my ideas are not fully formed yet. I am stepping away from guaranteed pay to create something new that blends my interests and allows for creativity to flow. I am trained as a plant scientist, and I am good at it. But that is not all there is to me. I create. I want to inspire other women to be bold and express themselves. I want to integrate my interests into my research, and most importantly, I want my research to be important to a larger community. 

I am going to start a blog to document my transition, but in this I want to highlight strong women of science that may be overlooked. In my profession, accomplishments are notable (i.e. grant funding, publications). But I think there is more to being a successful woman in science. Many of us are mothers, artists, volunteers...we have more to us than our jobs. We impact lives beyond our work accomplishments but this often goes unnoticed. I want to help provide a new paradigm for how we view women scientists.

8. Any new step is a risk. How do you stay motivated during the difficult moments?

This is tricky. I have a mind that likes to tell me I can't do things. My husband and good friends have been the most important in helping me to keep my motivation. But so is reigning in my thoughts. I meditate. I do yoga. I read books that have positive messages. And now I am reaching out to other women who are also making bold moves and listening to their stories and experiences. It inspires me to keep moving forward.





The Fun Stuff

9. Coffee or tea?

Definitely tea. There is nothing better than a well balanced cup of tea and a good friend to share it. 

10. What do you do to unwind after a hard day?

A good book and a bath with the best bath salts ever (MindSoak by Biggs and Featherbelle)

11. If you could have dinner with any woman throughout history who would it be?

This is a tough question because there are so many fascinating people whose stories I would love to hear. I am always fascinated by women who were in roles outside of the norm. I think I would choose Rosalind Franklin. She was a scientist whose work contributed to the understanding of DNA and was betrayed by a colleague who showed photos she had taken (without permission) to Watson and Crick....who came up with the model of DNA upon seeing these photos. I would like to know how she dealt with this betrayal. But I know there is more to Rosalind than the story involving the controversy and this is the side that gets overlooked. 

12. If you could give any piece of advice to yourself at 20 what would it be?

Trust yourself. Always. And stop thinking. 



1 comment:

  1. Kelly, I have thoroughly enjoyed this series of the fantastic women and know and those I did not! Great job!!!

    ReplyDelete

 

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