Reaching Across All Sciences: A Personal View from A Socio-Anthropologist at #SCCSNY2014


LaVana on one of her many adventures. This one is in Arizona.

Hello everyone! This weeks’ article is from my lovely younger sister, LaVana. I wanted to show how the conference in NYC this past October was not only for those in the conservation area. LaVana is a well versed and culturally aware young woman. She holds a Masters in Madarin Chinese from Valparaiso University in Indiana and an undergrad in Cross-Cultural Communications and World Affairs. Her skills and expertise in studying cultures and social norms have taken her around the world through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe throughout her education.

She has lived in China for 6+ months and has studied the language for over 6 years. During those 6 months, she immersed herself in both the language and culture of the society she stayed. This summer, she taught an Introduction to Chinese Culture at IPFW, a university in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The purpose of this course was to stimulate interest in high school students to want to continue Chinese as a potential language in college. The course focused on Chinese history, radicals and grammar, social norms, and basic vocabulary and numbers. Her Bachelors is in Cross-Cultural Communications and World Affairs where she studies the mannerisms and cultural differences of societies and how to find a common ground. She was the first to do this major and made a small travel and safety guide of her experiences for her thesis.

LaVana (Left) and student (right) in Egypt.

So as you can see, she is not the average Masters student. She chose Chinese as an easier language than Spanish…SPANISH!! I am very proud of her and her accomplishments. Here is her viewpoint on the Student Conference for Conservation Science 2014.


This year I was lucky enough to participate in the 4th Annual Student Conference on Conservation Science held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, New York. The event itself lasted for three days, the first two filled with speakers and the last day with dotted with workshops and prizes. Various students and teachers with ranging degrees gathered to listen to students and professionals, network, and discuss about their future goals. Though my field of science deals more with cultural and social aspects, I found that I had more in common with the conference similar to any loving environmentalist.

The conference, to me, was more than just networking and listening to the latest projects on conservation. It focused heavily on guidance, passion and personal goals for those in the scientific community. Throughout the presentations, one including a public discussion with mentors on conservation such as Dr. Ayana Johnson, Dr. John Cigliano, Dr. Lekeliah (Kiki) Jenkins, and moderated by Dr. Eleanor J. Sterling, I picked up on many important underlining messages. Such messages focused on finding mentors, passion and career goals, important aspects that, I found reached even into my field of science. My sister, Luanettee’ Colebrooke, has a Master’s Degree in Environmental science and asked Dr. Kiki Jenkins and other professionals regarding personal and career topics. She was told that seeking guidance from individuals who share your passion is very important, as well as sticking to your beliefs and what you want to personally achieve. No matter what others say, there is a will and way to reach your dreams. There were other personal questions, yet I felt that this was a key element to everyone there pursuing a higher degree. Personally, it was very refreshing to see predominant female scientists attend the conference, aiming for their PhDs and with their PhDs.

I considered myself very grateful and blessed to have experienced this conference and meet such extraordinary people. I felt empowered, the motivation, goals and viewpoints of those who have been there and are currently going through attaining higher degrees and pursuing their research, successfully keep the flames of passion alive! It can be disheartening to have such a flame die out because that person thinks no one will support them or it cannot be attained. Yet people like Dr. Kiki are showing that anything is possible and knowing the ropes to go about it helps.

If possible, I would love to return next year and experience this event again. In fact, I encourage anyone interested, be it in the same scientific field or others like myself, to attend similar student focused conferences. It creates new friends, exchanging ideas and information, connect hearts, and rekindle personal flames. It can help to fuel your passion, which will one day surely change our world for the better. Till the next one.


Isn’t she grand?

Do you know anyone who would benefit from such an experience? Let me know in the comments section below and I will post more information in another post for future events at the American Museum of Natural History.


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