My journey into meteorology started with a love of science. Specifically, astronomy. I remember as a kid looking up at the sky a lot, the clouds overhead, trees moving in the wind, the stars, and planets at night. I have distinct memories of some ‘wow’ moments, like when I first looked at Jupiter through a telescope, seeing a whole planet with detail, not just a bright spot in the sky. My mind was blown learning about Halley’s comet, what it was, how far it traveled, what it was made of. I suppose that’s when I first realized how big everything was and how small the Earth really is. And yet, all of this wild stuff was happening there! I really wanted to learn all about the whys and hows.
It did not occur to me that meteorology should be my path until I started at Penn State. I call it a happy accident because I popped into the meteorology department just to check it out, and it hit me like the proverbial lightning bolt. Math, chemistry, and physics always made sense to me. Meteorology was the perfect, most interesting way for me to apply all of that.
Finding a love for meteorology obviously took some time for me. Looking back, I can say I was never discouraged from studying and focusing on science, technology, or mathematics, but I wouldn’t say I was encouraged. I see the difference now with the push for STEM and, specifically, with girls and women in STEM today. I think of myself in middle school and high school and wonder how things would have been different if there were people seeing things in me I couldn’t have possibly seen in myself at that age and then nurturing that. Having that drive and direction and self-motivation is key, and I had some of that, but seeing what’s going on for young ladies now is so wonderful. No doubt in my mind we’ll all be better off for this encouragement early on in the process. It would make me so happy to know that in a small way, I can be part of that encouragement, nurturing, inspiration, motivation for someone.
My boys know what I do for a living, and in an adorable way, truly don’t see it as a big deal. They think it is completely normal that mom is a meteorologist. I’m not a weather girl, a female meteorologist, just a meteorologist. They know I’ve studied hard and worked hard to be where I am today. Seeing young ladies getting that little extra nudge to better position themselves from the start is awesome. I will also say passion definitely gets your far, but hard work and *good* work will be what takes you to that next level. That’s true with any career, including a STEM career like meteorology. It’s true for women and men.
I am so excited for those young minds entering STEM programs now. We need them! It’s really a great time to be a budding scientist.