November 4, 2022 by Dr. G
I am so thrilled and honored to be the 2022 recipient of the AWG Outstanding Educator Award! In October, I traveled to Denver, Colorado, to attend the AWG breakfast and award ceremony, held during the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting. It was such a fun morning and I met so many great supporters of women in geoscience! Below I’m sharing the short acceptance speech I gave. I didn’t have enough time to thank every person that has made an impact throughout my educator and career, each activity and event that has helped shape me to be the educator and mentor that I am today. But I hope you enjoy this little bit (and my photo with the award from the GSA red carpet!).
Okay, well, I’ll go ahead and get to announce Dr. Laura Guertin. She is here with us. This award was established in 1988, the premier professional award of the Association for Women Geoscientists. It acknowledges the role of teachers and mentors with every women geoscientists life story. The Outstanding Educator Award honors well-established women, college, or university teachers who have played a significant role in the education and support of geoscientists within and beyond the classroom in advancing the persistence of females and underrepresented minorities in the geoscience careers, and raising the profile of the geosciences by teaching to and for the broadest audience, the students. Would you like to come on up and share some words with us?
Dr. Laura Guertin: Good morning everyone.
Dr. Laura Guertin:
No one is more surprised that I have the title of educator than I am. Throughout my elementary, middle school, and high school years. I would be the last person to speak up in class, terrified to speak in front of groups of people. And here I am. And it’s interesting too, I don’t think I ever really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. And I don’t know how many of you here, first semester of college, had to take a career interest survey. We had to do that during orientation week at Bucknell University. And it was nicknamed the Carrot Test. And that’s because one of the questions on the test was, “Do you like your carrots cooked or raw?” And somehow by answering that question, it told you what your career field would be. So you can imagine the credibility that this test had among the students knowing that these are the types of questions we were asked. And when I got my results back at the end of my first week at Bucknell, the highest grade I got for a career, it was an A minus, and it said I was going to be a college professor. I dismissed that immediately of course, and said, “Well, this test, really.” And here I am.
And it’s interesting because again, I think even as an undergraduate student, I didn’t see myself as a college professor because in the 20 STEM courses I took at Bucknell, so that’s chemistry, biology, and physics, computer science and math, I only had one female faculty member. So I certainly never saw myself or any women in front of me that were in STEM fields. But when I got to graduate school at University of Miami, I went to the Rosenstiel School and I was funded through a teaching assistantship.
So here I am now. I want the funding, and here I am at University of Miami, working with the undergraduate students at the Coral Gables campus and realize that I need some help.
And so my first round of thanks today actually go to Geological Society of America and NAGT and all the amazing educational workshops they have had over the years.
I looked back on some on my early cv’s and I found that the first one I went to was in 1994 in Seattle, called Effective Teaching Practices, a workshop with graduate students, assistant professors, and anyone else interested in becoming a better teacher.
So thank you for that workshop and all the workshops relating to teaching paleontology and oceanography and using computers and geosciences. Those have been an amazing foundation. The field trips offered through these meetings have also been incredible and a great way, not just for my own professional development, but to meet amazing mentors along the way, especially Council of Undergraduate Research. Some of you are here in the room that I have met over the years and have been amazing mentors for myself. And I’m so glad that the alphabet soup of acronyms out there – NAGT, DLESE, SERC – all of them have played an incredible role in my own development, and that I can now give this back to others as well.
And I also welcome the opportunity to keep challenging myself as an educator. Most recently, I just served as an onboard outreach officer on JOIDES Resolution for two months. And let me tell you, if you’re looking for an educational challenge, try carrying around an iPad while wearing safety glasses and a hard hat on a moving ship, while giving tours to classrooms. It was an incredible opportunity. And I wish to thank AWG. I am incredibly honored and humbled to have this award, and I hope to continue inspiring all of the students that come through my classrooms and to all the student chapters that are here. I would love to Zoom with your chapters and actually speak to students at other universities and hopefully inspire you, encourage you to keep continuing with your own networking and education as well. So thank you very much.