There was a moment, when I was 16 and standing in the rubble of an 18th century church in Gulfport, Mississippi, that I realized I wanted more. More answers. More results. More time.
My life has been a perpetual pursuit of knowledge, a never-ending journey to answer the existential questions about the Earth and the creatures who inhabit it.
As a kid, I asked “why” to everything – which is what led me to Syracuse University. I first sought to be a documentary film-maker, and then I committed myself to being a journalist. I felt the need to give a voice to the voiceless, to cover wars and disasters, poverty and inequality, and social injustice in every place and form it manifests.
But life interrupted – as it so often does – and I found myself raising a child by myself whilst taking classes and working 60-70 hours per week just to pay rent. My world-view shifted. I quickly became dissatisfied with simply reporting the problems of the world and shifted to being a part of the solution. I lived through Hurricane Katrina, and the lessons that storm taught me have defined much of who I am. So as I gravitated toward science, environmental hazards and disasters became the focus of my academic journey.
Throughout my undergraduate career at Syracuse University, my graduate education at Louisiana State University, and now my doctoral studies at Florida State University, I’ve studied applied climatology, natural hazards and communications – the sheet music to the soundtrack of my life. I never “dropped” my journalism background – in fact, even though it extended my time in school, I finished both degrees in Geography and Journalism at Syracuse, and stuck with mass communication as my minor at LSU. Instead, I use my journalism background as a way to make me a better communicator so that I can continue to represent my own research and the research of others to the full spectrum of diversity in society.
My time at Syracuse transformed me into someone who barely resembled who I was when I arrived on the hill just five years prior: I am now a vegetarian, speak in spatial and temporal scales and am a GIS connoisseur. Above all, I like to think discovering geography was like finding religion for me. It changed the core of who I am. LSU had an equally significant impact, but in other, more deeply personal ways. I learned a lot about inequality, injustice and the power of ignorance.
Going into my doctoral studies at Florida State University, I will always be dedicated to truth and justice- the two pillars of my two majors. I hope to serve as a scientist who helps us understand the world a little bit better, so that we can be better caretakers of this beautiful, fragile and resilient planet.