NSF REU co-speaker Rebecca Tripp’s article “In My Nature” has been published in the Dec/Jan 2013/2014 issue of Ability Magazine:
Growing up on the rugged coast of Maine, with mountains, fields, forests and wildlife around every turn, I developed a deep love of the natural world at a very young age, and a strong desire to preserve it as I grew to understand the innumerable and increasingly devastating threats it faces. Despite having earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, nature remained my first true love. I became eager to gain the education and experience necessary to pursue a rewarding career in conservation. Given my physical limitations, however, I was plagued by self-doubt.
Paralyzed from the waist down after incurring a spinal cord injury nearly six years ago, I never dreamed that pursuing my passions and continuing the activities I loved were still options for me. I created a fortress of self-imposed restrictions, erecting blockades where they needn’t exist and justifying them without reason. I assumed that I would have to tailor my educational and career goals to fit the confines of my wheelchair, eschewing those courses in field biology that truly peaked my interest, and focusing instead on how I could make a difference solely from behind a desk. A recent summer REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) at Baker University in Kansas changed all that.
Funded by the National Science Foundation, the internship opened up a whole new world to me, allowing me to not only learn the ropes, quite literally, of biological field research, but also by shattering those preconceived ideas, held by myself and cemented by society, regarding my apparent lack of ability. Doctors William Miller, Meg Lowman and Elzie McCord, the scientists who spearheaded this project, had the foresight to recognize that a wheelchair does not have to be a limitation to good field biology, and wanting to encourage students from all walks of life to pursue their interest in science, made the decision to actively recruit participants with ambulatory disabilities.
Read the full article by “liking” Ability Magazine’s Facebook page. This will allow access to the digital version of the current issue.