Thursday, November 28, 2013

How to succeed in graduate school? Know yourself

I've always been fascinated by how people choose to live and think about their lives. No surprise then that memoirs, autobiographies and biographies are favorite genres. Growing up, I poured over the life stories of Mary McLeod Bethune and Jane Addams. Later is was Memoir of a Race Traitor and YellowBlack

Recently I've come across research showing that developing an identity as a scientist - someone with value to add to the field - is a key factor in the retention and career success of underrepresented minorities (URM) and women in STEM fields. So, now I'm seeking stories by and about underrepresented minority and women scientists so I can learn and share them with emerging scientists. 

To that end, I just finished Carl Hart's High Price in which he examines his education and career in order to understand how he succeeded in school and was able to become a neuroscientist. 

As I find more books like this, I'll add them to this posting. I wonder if students would find it helpful to take the time to write down a portrait of/pathway to becoming a scientist. This narrative wouldn't be shown to anyone. The goal instead is an inner one - to see oneself as a unique and capable scientist.