In the past 40+ years, my professional experience has spanned several disciplines and included an eclectic array of employment adventures. I have worked as an analytical chemist for industry and academia, created and marketed a family game sold across the country, developed and instructed science curriculum for enrichment programs, served as an international consultant, raised a family, traveled the world, and settled into the realm of biodiversity.
Of all my different career paths, being the teaching lab coordinator in biology at Iowa State is my favorite. Not only do I have the opportunity to be creative, write, and discover biodiversity on a daily basis, but I am able to interact, teach, and mentor the undergraduate and graduate students that pass through these halls. So far that has included over 31,000 undergraduates and 260+ graduate students with the numbers increasing yearly. Granted individual contact with the undergraduates is limited, but I do have direct interaction with the graduates who teach those undergraduates. Although much of this position is mechanical (ordering supplies, preparing the lab material, updating lab activities, setting up the stations, hiring the workers, etc.), it is the daily personal interactions and discussions that, I believe, leave a more lasting but less measurable impression.
My grandfather only had a 6th grade education. When his father died, he had to quit school and work in the tobacco fields of Kentucky to support his mother and brother. Grandpa never said much, it was usually... yep... or ... nope. I remember one day as I sat on the porch swing with him, I asked him if he thought I should just quit school and go to work. ( I was debating whether to finish college or drop out and just work.) I was expecting the typical yep or nope. However, his answer has stuck with me all these years. He said "no matter what you have or what you lose, education (implying knowledge) is one thing nobody can ever take from you." My hope is, as the students embark on their journey, that they take education seriously and realize it is more than content; it is a way of life and a treasure no one can take from you. What a wonderful place to be.