Hi there! Whether you are a friend or friend to be, welcome to the site that is all things me. A few of my favorite Colorado School of Mines professors used to ask us to introduce ourselves in the fashion of Location, Knowledge, and Desire (LKD) on the first day of class. It helped to give a more in depth understanding of my colleagues and shed more light on their motivation for studying engineering than the classic “How did you spend your break?” question. Before you read mine, take 5 minutes to think about your own LKD.
I have held many geographic locations in my life. My Dad was in the Coast Guard, which means my location has ranged from being born on Kodiak Island in Alaska, to running barefoot around the swamps in North Carolina as a kid, to enjoying the sunshine in California. I feel most at home when the ocean is near.
My most recent location was the Mbeya region of Tanzania as a Peace Corps Volunteer teaching physics to high school aged students. My community was less than 5,000 people. The main income generating activity was agriculture and it took an hour and half by car to reach a paved road. It was the first time I lived alone. I had access to electricity, but no running water. My cute brick house, provided by the community, was part of the teacher housing next to a secondary school sitting at the base of Kyejo Mountain. Maybe I am biased, but it was by far the most beautiful place I have ever lived and with the most kind people.
Before Peace Corps, I was located in Golden, Colorado at the Colorado School of Mines as an Environmental Engineering undergrad. Mines is located west of Denver at an intersection of food, energy, and water systems that provide unique challenges in policy and implementing technology. This makes it an excellent location to learn about solving complex problems. But, it should be noted that Mines is a STEM school, everyone graduates with a degree in engineering, science, or economics. Students enrolled in Mines undergraduate programs are majority White Male (51.8%), followed by 21% of students being white female. The most common undergraduate degrees are Mechanical and Petroleum Engineering. As you can probably imagine, the combination of these demographics and the reputation of being academically rigorous creates a unique student body culture. One that was often competitive and focused on perfection and getting that one correct answer rather than creativity and innovation.
I believe that knowledge comes in many different forms, the lessons in an academic classroom, the people that inspire and influence you, and from landmark life events.
Peace Corps was knowledge from experience. Everyday I learned about Tanzanian culture, Nyakusa culture (the tribe in my area), Swahili, gender roles and income generation in a developing country. And other more practical skills such as cooking by fire, washing clothes by hand, and surviving rainy season. The most treasured knowledge that was passed on to me by my Tanzanian friends and neighbors, was the value of community and caring for one another whether they are your family or not. I got so much more from Peace Corps than I was capable of providing to the community I placed in and I hope to carry and pass along that knowledge for the rest of my days.
My academic learning and ability to thrive at the Colorado School of Mines is attributed to the professors and students in the Humanitarian Engineering Program and the Environmental Engineering Department.
The list of people that have taught me the importance of kindness, empathy, compassion, humility, and grace is endless. You know who you are and I would not be the person I am today without you. I would like to acknowledge some the strongest women in my life; my mother Luci and grandmothers Betty and Yoko who helped me to understand my own strength, courage, and faith. And Madam Farida, the woman that is endlessly learning and working to uplift and support women around her in Tanzania.
You may be wondering why on earth my website domain is “beautiful musk ox.” First, I love the show Parks and Recreation and more importantly I love the character of Leslie Knope and desire to be more like her. You can explore the many reasons to love Leslie here and here.
My top reasons are:
- She has her priorities straight (Friends, Waffles, then Work) and is a stellar and loyal friend
- She uses her career to elevate those around her and positively impact the Pawnee community
- She openly voices her opinions and stands strong in what she believes
- She has high expectations of herself
- She is very optimistic (people yelling angrily at her is simply “caring loudly” to her)
Secondly, I biked to the Musk Ox farm in Palmer, AK during my time as a Canvasser for the Alaska Center for the Environment (random, I know, even more random was that Alex Trebek was at one time their largest donor). Anyways, my time in Alaska taught me about the importance of taking care of our Earth. Also, the voices of constituents can be powerful in politics and that we need to provide avenues and opportunities to listen to those voices.
Overall, I have the desire to use my knowledge, location, and privilege to engage, elevate, and learn from those around me in hopes of having a positive impact on the world. Whether, that is through engineering or another avenue I have not quite figured out yet!