Blog post by:
Cherilynn Shadding, PhD
Associate Dean of Diversity, Career Development and Alumni Affairs
As a Black woman scientist, where I’ve often been the only or first in my occupational spaces, I was exhausted with 2020. It was constant insults piled onto an already worn existence tattered by the reality of racism/casteism. My professional theme of “Thrive 2020” turned to “Survive 2020” as my humanness and blackness was challenged. Whilst still tired, in this new year, I’m grateful I still have something left and so do you. How do we effectively use what’s left without being consumed?
Find yourself – age and times of crisis are excellent teachers. Using what’s left, learn what MOVES, SADDENS, and ELEVATES you. If coping is hard, get the help you need. Finding yourself will direct you to use your most precious resources - TIME and ENERGY - towards things that matter most.
Find your community – we all want to belong. For those “othered” by society, it can be harder to find this in academia. However, your community may exist in a peer, a faculty member, the department assistant, or janitor. It may exist in another school. Look around for those that allow you to be you, and can provide sound advice in easy and hard times.
Find your champion – similarly, find the champion that will help you develop professionally and civically. Find someone who hears you and will work with you to make the changes that you desire.
Find your “one” – in academia especially, those who are “othered” feel the burden of injustices deeply, whether in the world or in their own lab/clinic/classroom. We often want to solve all of the problems at once. If you are passionate about equity and inclusion work, find one thing that you can focus on and the community that can help it materialize even if it is after you have graduated.
This is not a sugar-coating of the injustices many have experienced or witnessed. There are critical conversations, recognitions, and compensations that have not happened. It’s critical that you, as a student, care for yourself first, then use some of what’s left to build a just academy and society.