I have a new job!!!! Well, a new Friday job. Actually, the kind of job I decided on kinda means I have to work more than just Fridays, but weʻll see how it goes. This might turn into a weekly thing where a drop a tidbit of wisdom on you, but I feel like it best for my readers (Hi, Mom!) to understand some things before jumping into my weekly updates. This week, I met a lot of new people and realized that my name may be hard to say...again, go make friends with a Hawaiian! Since youʻre awesome enough to be reading this, you get a lesson. This (ʻ) mark is called an ʻokina, itʻs basically a glottal stop, which means my name is pronounced as KOO-stop-EE, not KOOWEE! If this doesnʻt help, just call me by my English name, Mel. Consider yourselves lucky that I donʻt go by my full name and learn how to pronounce my shortened name or use my English name!
Okay, back to the really exciting stuff...my new job! If you read my post from last week, you know that I started my new lab tech job, which is M-Th at the Kewalo Marine Lab (KML), and that I was tasked with creating a new job for my Fridays at UHM. Iʻm really stoked on both jobs, but my KML job has been a little slow going. Our actual lab space is still under construction, so my first official, non-paperwork/logistical day was spent cleaning our new office space. It was very recently evacuated, and you could really tell that the person left in a whirlwind because the place was SO filthy! Iʻm the first person from our lab hui that has officially started, so I was the lucky one who had to clean the place. Ugh, it was so gross...SO. MUCH. DUST. *Bright-side, I got first dibs on desk space and took the best view (SO not sorry)! Our newest member, Laʻa Aliifua, an Ike Wai Undergrad Scholar, starts next week and although I love my new view and new office, I could really use the company.
Itʻs currently Friday and the position that I pitched to my Supervisor was accepted! For those of you that know me, you know that I can owe a big part of my science career to the magnificent, Keolani Noa. She found me almost exactly 1 week after giving birth to my, now 5 year old, son. Her family has been involved in my familyʻs lives for a very long time, but I personally havenʻt seen her since I was in 8th grade. My parents, especially my mom, have taught me how to be a strong individual/mother, a smart student, and a proud Hawaiian, but, in recent years, Aunty Keolani Noa taught me how to be a stronger mother, a smarter student, and a prouder (yes, thatʻs grammatically correct, look it up) Hawaiian. She kept me going at my weakest points and inspired me to be a Native Hawaiian Scientist, and not to settle for being just a Native Hawaiian doing science. She has inspired me in so many ways and so many times that I designed my job around what she has done for me.
The program that I was hired for is being funded by an Hawaii EPSCoR (under NSF) grant and is called Ike Wai. This program is multifaceted, but mainly focuses on Hawaiiʻs fresh water and bridging Hawaiian knowledge with western science methods by working hand in hand with scientists, indigenous communities, and academic communities. Part of the program introduces undergrads to the world of scientific research. A lot of the selected undergrads are local/Native Hawaiian students at a community college, which is exactly who and where I was when Aunty Keolani found me. It is super important for local scientists to conduct local science. We were born and raised here and we know our "place" the best, so who better to do our local research than local people? This can be extremely difficult due to cultural and personal differences. I have a unique understanding of what itʻs like to be a local/Native Hawaiian with both cultural and personal struggles (single mom, here!) from a CC, who practically lives on the bridge of culture and science. Therefore, I am the new Ike Wai Undergraduate Scholarsʻ science and culture support staff! Check back next week to see how my first Week with Laʻa went and my first day meeting all the new Scholars!
Top Left: Me in my dust mask, Top Right: This isnʻt even half of the filth, Bottom Left: Lab is literally still under construction, Bottom Right: I stole the best view!