This Thanksgiving, what are you thankful for?

It’s that time again…fellowship application season. Oh, and Thanksgiving. I have been thinking a lot about the people who have gotten me to where I am today – my parents, my teachers, my friends, and many more. With Thanksgiving tomorrow, it seems an appropriate time to give thanks and recognize those who have helped you on your journey. Who are you thankful to have in your life? These are the people who come to mind for me:

Mentors…
Mentors play a huge role in building our professional character. I firmly believe that I would not be where I am today without the support of many co-workers, managers, and role models throughout my time in industry internships and the academic environment. One specific manager comes to mind immediately. He was the one who convinced me that the type of industry job I wanted, where I was in charge of projects and managing other people, was more easily attained with a Master’s degree. This was the primary reason I came to graduate school. Then, of course, in graduate school I have been blessed with an amazingly supportive advisor, as well as an inspirational mentor on my Master’s research. While this mentor is no longer as involved with my research, she played a huge role in helping me finish the Master’s degree and decide to pursue the PhD qualifying exams and degree.

To help you find a mentor, or at least start the search, check out the following resources:
http://mentornet.net/ — You can have an industry, gov’t or academic mentor. These are for undergrads, grad students (MS or PhD), post docs and early faculty (not yet tenured).
http://www.awis.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=37 — This is a mentoring handbook written by the Association of Women in Science (AWIS). AWIS also offers mentoring programs usually at the local chapter level that are geared toward PhD level women grad students in STEM. They also have had some great webinars about how to find mentors and what type of mentors you need.

Parents…
Our parents are the people who have raised us to be the people we are today. My parents raised me to be curious and independent, among other qualities. This independent streak started with when I was shorter than the counter, and yet, I paid for my meals and brought the change back to my parents. My independence grew into moving across the country all by myself for school and internships, making new friends and contacts everywhere I went. Now, my curiosity and independence have led me to the home stretch of a PhD program. Without my parents, I would not be the person I am today.

Friends…
Friends are a vital part of surviving graduate school, in my opinion. You need to be able to relax and have fun after studying or staring at data all day. Your friends are the ones who help you be able to laugh at the stupid error you kept repeating, or even help you forget about school and research for a night. Be sure to thank your friends for being there for you through the good times and bad.

Significant others…
I have been fortunate enough to find my other half during graduate school. He is my rock, the one who got me through a rough eight months of qualifying exams, conferences, papers, homework and exams. I am extremely thankful to have someone so supportive of my career, and who loves me unconditionally. Whoever your rock is, be sure to thank them for their love and encouragement.

If you have any thoughts on the above comments, or would like to add additional people, please feel free to leave comments below.

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I know that I am going to make every effort to tell these people, “Thank you,” for all their support throughout my life. Wherever you are, I hope that you will do the same.

-Katharine Brumbaugh Gamble

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