Today is International Day of Women and Girls in Science, so in honour of the day, I’d like to tell some stories and pay tribute to two of the women in science who helped start me down the path that led to my PhD.
When I graduated high school, I knew that I wanted to pursue science in CEGEP. I enrolled in the Honours Science program at John Abbott College (for anyone who is planning on going to CEGEP, I highly recommend this program!). My Chem I and Chem II teacher there was Ms. Iyer, one of the most supportive and challenging teachers I have ever had. Most of us in the program considered ourselves pretty smart. Everybody, myself included, was at or near the top of their graduating high school class. But did Ms. Iyer ever challenge us. I remember the first assignment we got from her, a group of 6 of us combined our efforts to answer almost all of the questions mostly correct(ish). On our first two exams, I think I finished with around a 65%. I was pretty shaken, but Ms. Iyer continued to show faith in me. After a few pep talks in her office, she had my believe that I had all the tools to succeed. In the end, she was right.
My biology teacher at John Abbott was Ms. Rutherford. I remember CEGEP biology being my first foray into the real nitty gritty of biology – Krebs’ cycle, glycolysis… all those fun pathways. But Ms. Rutherford made class fun and understandable. In hindsight, her teaching style was a clinic in science communication. I took her class in my second year of CEGEP, right around the time I was looking into university programs. We had learned some of the basics of microbiology, but it was enough to get me hooked. If not for Ms. Rutherford and her teaching style, I don’t know if I would have pursued the microbiology path.
Even though I’ve only talked about two here, so many others have played a huge part in my life. I don’t even know if I could write something enough to do justice to all of them. In any case, I want to leave one last note here for all the women in science that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting or working with:
Thank you to all of the smart, talented, and wonderful women in science that I’ve encountered. Thanks for all the lessons, the laughs, and the good memories. And most of all, thanks for being you.