Five (academic) things I’m thankful for

It’s 2:30pm the day before Thanksgiving, and about 20 minutes ago my brain decided that we were done working for the day. So before I sign off for a long weekend of low-key relaxation (and football! and running! and Christmas decorating!) with my two favorite people in the world, I wanted to reflect on five academically-related things for which I am thankful this holiday season.

  1. My students. I’ve spent the past few hours writing recommendation letters, and the exercise reminded me of just how amazing our students are. Sure, sometimes they drive you batty, but I can truly and honestly say that I love my students. They are so sharp, so smart, and so engaged (ok, maybe less so during weeks 9 and 10 of the term). It is a joy to teach them and to work with them, and I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to teach at a school like Carleton.
  2. My colleagues. I am fortunate to work in a great department. We don’t always agree, but we listen and learn from each other. We work on making each others’ lives easier; we step in and pitch in. When I had to switch my upcoming leave from Spring to Winter at the last minute (see below), my chair and the rest of my department went into overdrive to help me figure out the logistics. I can go to any of them for advice or commiseration without fear of judgement. (Having tenure helps, but still.) They make my work life fun.
  3. My research. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned her before, I am passionate about my research. I’ve worked on my current project for almost 10 years now, in various forms, and it still excites me. There are still so many questions left to answer! And I truly and honestly believe what I am doing has the potential to be life-changing (or at least paradigm-changing), which fuels my passion. I am thankful that my job gives me the space and the freedom to explore the questions that motivate me, without question and without oversight.
  4. A term’s leave. I’ve had a pretty busy year, to put it mildly. My students started working in my lab this summer the day after Spring Term ended (before I had started grading my finals!), and we went pretty much right from the summer research time into a very busy fall term (with the dyad and various other service projects on tap). So it’s been about a year since I had a proper break. I was scheduled for a leave during Spring term, but due to some things going on in my personal life (more on that in a later post), I will be on leave next term instead. I’ll still be plenty busy, but this is the right time for a break in the routine and some time away from Carleton to refresh and rejuvenate before Spring term. I’m thankful that I have a job that’s flexible enough to allow me that much-needed time away.
  5. My mentors, sponsors, and cheerleaders. My recent trip to Grace Hopper reminded me of how energizing and powerful an effective support network can be. I’m grateful for all those in my life, inside and outside of my institution, who listen without judgement, offer advice, open doors, and open my eyes. I have some great people in my network and I would definitely not be where I am today without their support, encouragement, and facilitation.

I hope all of my US readers have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!