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Women in Science Project
6243 Parker House, 2nd floor
(Located in a two-story white frame house)
Hanover, NH
03755-3529
Phone: (603) 646-3690
Email: WISP@Dartmouth.EDU

Christie Jackson '97

Name: Christie Jackson, Class Year: '97

E-mail and/or phone number: Christie.Jackson@Dartmouth.edu, 646-3368

May Dartmouth students contact you? Sure! If so, by what method (phone, mail, e-mail)? Phone or e-mail, or going out to lunch in Hanover.

When and How Did You First Get Interested in Science?

As a toddler my parents tell me I had a fascination with fish. I used to shout, "I want to be a fish!" and was entranced by Nova Specials more than by Sesame Street. Growing up on the shores of Lake Michigan was very much a factor in my love of the science and marine topics.

What Was Your Major in College?

Biology and Philosophy.

How Did You Decide What to Focus On?

Honestly, I came to Dartmouth knowing exactly what I wanted to major in, down to the classes I wanted to take. I had to think about the resources at Dartmouth before I came, since I wanted to study marine biology. Dartmouth isn't really a natural choice for marine sciences, since we are in the mountains, and a few hours away from the coastline. I had to make sure Dartmouth could provide me with the resources I needed to explore my marine interests.

What Science-related Activities Did You Participate In, If Any? Were They Important and Why? Did They Make Science Intriguing or Generate Ideas for Continuing on in the Sciences?

I was a WISP intern with Professor Carol Folt in aquatic biology (I ended up working with her on/off for four years). I also was a WISP mentor. Part of my D-Plan was also devoted to science, with three off-campus terms focusing in this area: the SEA Program, the Williams-Mystic Seaport Program, and the Dartmouth Biology FSP to Costa Rica and Jamaica. These helped me to realize how much I enjoyed fieldwork and that the application of what I learned was critical. Science became much more of a team-focused discipline for me, through working with others on these amazing programs.

During College, Did You Have an Idea of What You Wanted to Do After Graduation? Did You Follow This Path?

I thought I was headed for graduate work in Marine Biology. Over my last two years at Dartmouth I realized that I wanted to veer off this path, at least temporarily. To tell you the truth, this was the most difficult decision I faced — leaving the comfortable path I thought I was on, and deciding to try something completely new. I think it's easy to get caught up on getting from point A to point B, but you have to make sure you really enjoy what you are doing along the way.

I had worked in the Dartmouth Admissions Office as an undergraduate (volunteer, tour guide, Senior Interviewer, April Intern). Through this work I realized I enjoyed working with people in education. Upon graduation, I took a job at the Admissions Office, where I have worked for the past three years.

What Are You Currently Involved In? What's the Most Rewarding Component of Your Current Work? What Do You Find Less Fulfilling?

Where do you expect and hope that this work may take you? While I am not using my science knowledge in a direct way, I realize that the field of education is an ideal one, since it combines so many disciplines together, including science. I love being able to talk to students about how to follow their science interests, informally counseling them on various off-campus programs, WISP, and how to explore different academic areas. I enjoy being able to combine my own interests in science and in working with people.

I do hope to actually get more involved with field research again, even if it is only in a volunteer setting. I miss the excitement of exploring the unknown and really getting to know a research site and the way that organisms interact within it.

What Are Your Top Priorities Today? Have These Changed from When You First Graduated?

I value working with others and being in an engaging setting. While these have always been my priorities, I have also come to realize that following my science love doesn't mean I have to give up working with people. I initially thought the only thing I could do with science was to do research. I see now there are many ways to synthesize my interest — in museums, outreach programs, volunteer work, and teaching.

What Are You Most Passionate about Today?

I am passionate about helping others to realize just how many opportunities there are out there. Science doesn't mean just being a doctor; education doesn't just mean being a teacher. There are ways to link all of your interests.

I am also passionate about continuing to learn. I never realized I would miss being a student so much! I do miss being in a classroom setting and being exposed to different viewpoints within classroom discussions. It's easy to become complacent and get too caught up in a routine. I make an effort to read a lot, get science magazines and books, and attend academic events.

Did You Have Any Mentors That Encouraged You or Any Individuals That Discouraged You? If So, Please Describe the Relationship and How It Influenced Your Career Path.

Professor Carol Folt and Celia Chen are amazing women who really were heroes to me. They combined being successful, smart researchers, with being family-focused, caring individuals. I always thought I had to pick one or the other, but they show that you can truly find a happy medium. They allowed me to make mistakes along the way as I learned, but this only helped me to find my own 'voice,' my own confidence.

How Did You Find Out About Various Jobs, Maybe Even the Job You Have Now?

I would urge you to go in and talk to people and ask them how they got where they are. I remember going into several administrators' offices my senior year, and bluntly saying, "How did you get to where you are now?" Its fascinating to hear how some people slowly find their passions through trial and error. That helped me to realize that I could try different paths, and that as a 21 year-old, I didn't have to know what I was going to do for the rest of my life. I still am trying to find my path, but now I see the process as much more exciting that just the end result.

Did You Ever Doubt Your Capabilities and/or Knowledge in Your Major/Career? How Did You Overcome Those Self-doubts?

Yes, I think its natural. I learned that I didn't have to have all the answers, all the time. That's what being a student is all about. Instead of only looking ahead, which can be all consuming at a fast-paced school like Dartmouth, I learned to reflect on how far I had really come. I started to take more pride in my work, instead of always doubting it.

If You Could Change Any thing about Your Career Trajectory, What Would It Be and Why?

I wish I had been more flexible early on. I seemed nervous to veer off the path I envisioned for myself. Over the last few years I have begun to realize that letting my interests and talents naturally flow together was the best way to find my academic passions.

What Advice Do You Have for Current Students Who May Be Interested in the Sciences?

Think broadly — science is a part of what you do every day, and there are as many jobs to reflect this, as there are imaginative approaches.

Try to keep things in perspective - every experience is one to learn from.

Last Updated: 11/8/10