Obtaining optimism: finding hope in the actions of others

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Contact Info: katie.stinson@unthsc.edu

By Katie Stinson

During this unprecedented time, during this time of uncertainty, during this time of wishing for health and safety, during this time of wishing well, during this time of the unknown...

We can still rely on three things:

  1. Death
  2. Taxes
  3. Change

Death and taxes are the standard cliché, but most people forget that change is also constant and inevitable.  Although we don’t know when this pandemic will end, we know that it will not last forever.  Although we know that systemic racism is an ongoing issue, we know that we can all work together to correct the injustices.  Although right now it seems like we must endure a new chaos every day, we know that this too will subside.

While it’s easy to write the dependent clauses at the end of each of those sentences, there are days when it’s difficult to remember that these ‘unprecedented times’ and ‘times of uncertainty’ will also change.  It’s going to take time and effort to ensure that the change is positive, but nonetheless, it will change.

On my difficult days (and let’s be honest, those days are becoming the norm), I try to recount the things I accomplish and the good I put into the world.  Some days that means the only task I can acknowledge is that I got out of bed and fed my cat (I’m choosing not to acknowledge the coercion from my furry roommate) – and remind myself that that’s okay.  But other days, I remind myself of the work I do with the National Research Mentoring Network.  My title is “Virtual Engagement Strategist” and while I have a set job description, most of my tasks fall under the “and other duties as assigned” portion of the description.  When I think of the good I’m putting into the world through NRMN, I’m not thinking about the meetings I had or the articles I wrote; I’m thinking about my role in helping people across the United States find meaningful mentoring relationships that help them achieve their dreams.

Every morning, the first thing I do after logging into my computer is check MyMentor to see if any mentees have requested assistance in finding a mentor.  After identifying matches, I look to see the new connections that occurred while I slept and remind myself that this is why I’m hoarse at the end of the day from back-to-back Zoom meetings.  I do this to help others develop independence, confidence, and self-efficacy to achieve their dreams.  I do this to try to fix the leaky pipeline into the STEM fields.  I do this because I want to help others.

I’ve always been intimidated by the STEM fields but respected them and wanted to find a way to contribute to the growth and discovery within the fields.  I’m intimidated by the STEM fields because I don’t have a STEM brain.  I will never master chemistry or physics, I will never cure cancer, and I will never write a computer program. However, MyMentor has provided my liberal arts brain a path to be a part of the STEM community and contribute to intellectual gains by helping others discover and achieve their dreams.  Seeing these connections motivates me to believe that the change does lie ahead..  

To those starting new mentoring connections each day, thank you for providing me optimism.

If you are a mentee or a mentor and would like my assistance in MyMentor, I’m happy to help.  You can email me at katie.stinson@unthsc.edu or send me a message in MyNRMN.

The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.
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