Aside from my pup, the Hispanic Access Foundation and many USFWS employees have helped me maintain balance this summer. The kindness and hopefulness of these folks have encouraged me to pivot my career as well. I entered my PhD program wanting to pursue a career in academia as a professor. Over the last few years, I’ve become less and less enthusiastic about the work culture of higher education. To be completely honest, I find it toxic. While some people find and spread joy in academia, they are singular bright spots, having to work extremely hard to spread their positive energy and push against harmful institutional structures. In contrast, most of the people I have engaged with in the USFWS seem happy and supported by their institution! As the social inequities of America have been highlighted this summer by the pandemic and police brutality, USFWS employees have talked about how they can be agents of social change. Many are hopeful that they can continue to do good conservation work and replace themselves when they retire with a contingency of people who better reflect American demographics.
That’s a work culture that excites me, but first, to graduate!
Photo caption: I became a dog mom this summer! World, meet River Monster.