Tag Archives: gratitude

The AAAS Mass Media Fellowship might change your life

9 Aug
I’m going to edit this thank you note that I sent to the AMS into an article to run in the AMS Notices, but thought I’d put the unedited version here for my readers to know just how much this fellowship has meant to me.  Sorry that I have been neglecting the blog over the summer as I wrote full time, and hopefully I’ll be able to keep putting my thoughts to paper (actually, screen), and maybe bake some yummy things.  Enjoy!
From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank the American Mathematics Society so much for enabling me to write for the Raleigh News & Observer this summer.  As I wrap up this amazing summer with just a week left, I want to reflect a bit on what I’ve learned and accomplished during the past nine weeks.
I’ve accepted a part time job (hopefully full time next year) with the award-winning nonprofit news organization North Carolina Health News and plan on filling the rest of my time with freelance science journalism, connecting with the Science Communicators of North Carolina group for freelance leads.  None of this would have happened without the support of the AMS.  I cannot imagine what my life would have looked like without this fellowship- it is the jumping off point for the rest of my career doing what I love.
Of the 20 stories I’ve written so far, eight have ended up on the front page of the N&O.  The summer has convinced me that there’s a desire and thirst for science stories among the public- people want to know what’s happening in science research which can affect their lives.  One of my favorite stories of the summer was a dive into peanut allergies and upcoming treatments for them, where I interviewed biopharmaceutical companies, medical researchers, parents, and a six year old kid.  My story on using polio to treat brain cancer was also a big hit, and I covered a few other medical stories too.
A really fun reporting experience I had was covering a new kinkajou at the Carolina Tiger Rescue- I’m pretty sure I will never have another opportunity to pet a kinkajou!  So cute, so soft, so dangerous.
I told a high school girl this morning who is thinking of majoring in math that once you do math, you can do anything.  I’ve read many abstruse, dense research papers over this summer, and they were a breeze compared to the papers I read for my thesis work.  Math doesn’t exist outside of communication of it, and I think my math background really prepared me for adapting arguments and creating interesting analogies and ways to explain different ideas to different audiences.  I look forward to continuing to be involved in the math community, maybe as one of those people they trot out as ‘alternative careers’ in panels (which I am very excited about).  Please let me know if there’s ever anything I can do for the AMS.
One surprising aspect of this summer has been the fellowship component of the fellowship.  Though we only met for three days during orientation, the 2018 fellows have kept in close contact online through the summer, supporting and tweeting each others’ clips, reading cover letters, offering a space to vent about science misunderstandings and editing out science details, and exploring our own trepidation and excitement of this sometimes overwhelming plunge into a new field.  I am so privileged to be part of this network of comrades who I am certain will support me for the rest of my career.
It’s been so fun to spend a few hours learning all about fields I know nothing about- big dives into paleontologygenetics, and climatology, just to name a few.  I feel so lucky that I’ve had my mathematical experiences to ground me and give me confidence in my ability to learn anything.
On a more personal note, I love that this fellowship supports women, and I’m so grateful that I could find a site near my home so I could go home on weekends and see my baby and toddler.  Incidentally, my husband devoured the women’s history month issue of the AMS Notices.
I talked with Evelyn Lamb, who was also a AMS-sponsored Mass Media fellow, some time ago about the guilt of not being an exemplar of a woman mathematician by exiting academia, and she pointed out that she might be doing more good for the world of mathematics by spreading knowledge and awareness of it through her stories than she was as a postdoc.  I’m so grateful to the AMS for giving me this choice and this opportunity to do the same- math will always be part of me and I will always spread my love of it, and thanks to the AMS, I can now do that in a way that better matches my strengths and vision of what I want my life to look like.
With so much gratitude,
Yen Duong
Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: