I have lost count of the times that I’ve been invited into a space to share my scholarship—recent advances in my teams’ understanding of the acclimation of plants or cyanobacteria to their local environment or my recent insights into meaningful mentoring, leadership, or institutional transformation—that I’ve also had intentional interactions with Black women scholars around BEING and BEING WHOLE in academic spaces.
These interactions and conversations happen when I’m stopped in corners of exhibit halls, convention centers, or hotel lobbies. They happen over coffee, lunch, or dinner when I’m invited to share space and conversations by these Black women scholars and other young women—women who have been waiting to see themselves represented as speakers on the “big stage” or in leadership and expert consulting roles.
I’ve come to embrace that—in addition to my scientific purpose of exploring interesting and relevant science questions and contributing to scientific advances, as well as engaging in the efficacious mentoring of junior colleagues and innovative academic leadership—my full scholarly purpose also encompasses the mentoring moments [or episodic mentoring] and ongoing mentoring that occurs from encountering junior women scholars of color.
I currently work on a large research campus and I’ve increasingly noticed that these engagements are also happening locally.
As a first and only in so many of the stops along the trajectory of my own professional journey, I recognize how rare such opportunities can be for young Black women and other women of color to encounter and actively engage with senior women of color in academic circles. So, I fully embrace these opportunities and recognize that MY FULL PURPOSE in the academic spaces I inhabit spans scientific and representational contributions.
In embracing my FULL purpose, I hope to contribute in some meaningful way to these scholars also walking fully into their own purpose. The academy needs these women and their brilliant contributions—even when the very academy that needs them can’t always see, affirm, cultivate, acknowledge and reward the priceless contributions that will be made.
As always, if you have thoughts on this or other posts, find me on Twitter at @BerondaM.