Final Reflections

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Dahlia Baker

It’s been about five weeks since I was in DC, and so much has happened since then. Saying goodbye to my roommates and friends I made over the summer was hard, but I had the feeling that we would definitely be seeing more of each other in the not-so-distant future. It also helped knowing that I was going to hit the ground running when I returned to Coe, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.

It was easy to fall back into my Physics Club position as Event Coordinator, and my main duty for that office has been to organize the 38 people that our department is going to bring to PhysCon this coming November. I love being able to make this opportunity possible for the other physics students, and what motivates me the most is that I get to introduce my peers to the people that changed my life this past summer. I hope to impart on them how awesome this internship was for me personally and professionally, and show them all of the other resources that SPS has to offer.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced since returning to Coe is starting a club. Over the summer, my experience with my roommates and fellow interns inspired me to want to recreate that supportive and motivating atmosphere for other women here at Coe. As a result, I came back to campus and immediately gathered all of the other motivated women in STEM I could find, and together we started Women in STEM. Our club isn’t official yet, but I’ve seen so much support from the Coe and Cedar Rapids community that I have no doubts that this club is going to be able to do great things.

My internship was the turning point in my career, if not my life. Before this summer, I didn’t feel very capable as a student or a scientist, and I had doubts about whether or not I should actually pursue research or go on to graduate school. Working at NASA and meeting all of those professional scientists through SPS gave me the courage to pursue what I’m really interested in, which is science and research and astrophysics. Instead of being scared of my future, I feel so excited about what things I might be able to do in the coming summer and following years.

I learned so much about networking, giving professional presentations, creating a real research poster, writing an abstract, what its like to do real commuting, graduate schools and postdocs opportunities, and so much more. I got to live with other people who don’t like to clean either, make friends from all over the country, and experience the 9-5 working life. This internship takes whatever you put into it and returns that to you ten-fold. If you want to know even more about how great it was, please feel free to contact me at dahlia.baker [at]

Dahlia Baker