Why hello there! I have emerged from the misty forests of obscurity to share exciting news: I’ve been accepted for a master’s degree program in biology at North Carolina State University! In collaboration with the North Carolina Zoo, I will be studying critically endangered red wolves, hopefully making discoveries in the process that will benefit their welfare and survival.
Interestingly, NC State’s mascot is wolves, with the student body referred to as the “Wolfpack.” As a result, wolf-related things are everywhere on campus, to the point where it’s started to feel less like a coincidence and more like a wink from God, affirming that this is where I’m meant to be.
I am excited about this new adventure, but also (naturally) nervous. Here I will be learning new skills, delving deeply into my research, and teaching other students about the marvels of science. I know it is going to be difficult at times. However, this weekend I received reassurance that I am capable of handling such challenges–from a very unexpected source.
As part of its welcome festivities for new and returning students, NC State held an event called Paddles and Popsicles yesterday. During this activity, students were invited to borrow a kayak, canoe, or standup paddleboard (SUP) to paddle across Lake Raleigh. I intended to borrow a kayak and enjoy a serene outing on the lake. I am very familiar with kayaks; I have my own inflatable model, and I’ve been out with it often enough to feel quite comfortable.
However, by the time I arrived at the party, all the kayaks had already been claimed. I am also experienced with canoes, but all the canoes were taken, too. I was given two options: 1) wait for a kayak or canoe to come back, or 2) take out a standup paddleboard, a piece of equipment I had never used before.
I could have waited for a kayak or canoe, but I opted for the riskier option instead, the one which provided the greater chance for learning and growth: the standup paddleboard. At first, I only sat down to paddle, worried I would lose my balance, fall in the lake, and become the laughingstock of my peers for years to come. Eventually, though, I decided to go for it. And, to my great pride and delight, after a bit of teeter-tottering and some wet shoes and shocks, I succeeded.
This experience was a welcome reminder that I am much more adaptable than I tend to give myself credit for. I have always been curious and brave, and I love to explore and try new things. This open-minded inquisitiveness has both fueled my imagination as a fantasy writer and given me the keen, questioning mind of a researcher, as well as the courage to put myself in situations where others seldom tread (a field camp in Kenya! Yellowstone in the dead of winter! The Israeli desert in the middle of a pandemic! etc….).
My first day of classes is tomorrow. I look forward to this journey ahead, and I will now enter into it with much more confidence than I had before, trusting God to light my way.