The Maiden Voyage

Posted by on April 2, 2011 at 2:23 pm.

Greetings brothers, sisters, strangers, friends, and fellow beings. My name is Andrew. I am new to #Life, and I am eager to begin my maiden voyage into the realm of the blogosphere. Please, folks, no icebergs.

I start my life from the humblest of beginnings, in rural Illinois, built on the heritage of a small family farm.
Amongst all of the livestock, crops, blood, sweat, and tears, I learned the values of hard work, responsibility, gratitude, environmental stewardship, and moral character. Like anyone, though, my journey has certainly been less than perfect (as future posts shall tell).

To satisfy your appetite for drama in these posts, I will be commenting on aspects of experiences, family, friends, career, science, religion, politics, education, character, and my passions.

To fast-forward before I rewind, there are a lot of big things going on in my life right now. Currently, my short-term goal is to be admitted to graduate school in the fall of this year. This, of course, was not how I had initially planned things. Life seems to happen that way quite often. Prior to my undergraduate graduation from Southern Illinois University (SIU) in Carbondale, Illinois, I had always planned to begin graduate school the following fall (in 2010). After a year of blunders and mishaps, I learned (slowly) that applying to graduate school really is not the same as applying to an undergraduate program, especially in a scientific field like mine. Apparently, it takes more than who or what you are on paper to impress a panel of academics. Today, it takes a proactive effort at engineering new social networks with astute faculty members…and a lot of kissing their asses. Things that I was not made privy to at SIU. As a result, each of the schools I applied to in 2010 had rejected my admission. Talk about a time to recalibrate–graduated and asking myself, now what!? Certainly not a novel experience.

Initially, rejection was difficult to swallow as an undergraduate student of my ambition and caliber. I worked tirelessly throughout college, often sacrificing the late night drinking escapades and social hoopla, to reach this next step. From creative research to volunteerism, and from extracurricular involvement to prowess in the classroom, I did it all. In hindsight, I have since realized that things happen as they are meant to happen, in a specific order, and at their own pace. I don’t determine the tempo of my story; rather, I’ve learned that I just put in the extra effort, all the while waiting for the curtain to open.

So like a donkey (or an ass, as I’ve often been called) following the suspended carrot (graduate school), I pressed onward. Despite my initial challenges with the first “go round” at graduate school applications–because that is really how the process can be, a “merry go round”–I have learned from my past mistakes (now there’s an accomplishment in of itself) and have had greater success this year in my pursuits of a Master’s program with a wildlife related focus. Focal programs, or at least those that even care to acknowledge my inquiry, are at West Virginia University and the University of North Texas.

From SIU, I earned my Baccalaureate degree in zoology, and my career focus is in wildlife biology and management. Comically enough to my contemporaries, my career passion is to study birds of prey in some form or another; this is to be determined, naturally (pun intended). Your everyday eagles, hawks, falcons, harriers, kites, and owls are what I am all about. Currently, I am living in northern California, on the coast, working for a local timber harvesting firm called Green Diamond Resource Company. This temporary position as a wildife technician came just in the nick-of-time to save me from the mundane atmosphere of dead-end work and political turmoil in Illinois. I am working in the area until mid-August, which is exactly what I needed…a job to get me through to the dawn of graduate school (and in my field of expertise, nonetheless)!

My daily schedule runs from early in the afternoon through the late evening–exquisite for a recovering college student. The duties of my fellow coworkers and I is quite simple, yet so convoluted and challenging (the very things that I crave). Our job is to locate, observe, and document breeding raptor populations on property managed by the company. We survey for Northern spotted owls primarily, but our work also concentrates on surveying for eagles, ospreys, falcons, and other hawks. As the company prepares to harvest timber, we go out and try to postpone operations by locating our sensitive raptors species (and I don’t mean sensitive in a romantic kind of way). It may seem like a redundant task, a timber harvesting company that actually pays wildlifers to locate susceptible species so that harvest plans may be postponed; however, our jobs are nourished by demand due to federal mandates in law that encourage the preservation and conservation of important species.

Simply put: I study raptors. When I say that “I study raptors” I am not saying that I study an ancient dinosaur that stole the show in movies like Jurassic Park. Although, the career path of paleontology did cross my mind as an option throughout my childhood, and perhaps because of Jurassic Park. Then again, what young boy didn’t fantasize about devoting their lives to discovering or living amongst the dinosaurs? As a matter of fact, I have even been known for parading around like a dinosaur in moments past–a fact that I am very proud of. I enjoy goofing around. It’s how I help make the day go by quicker, and it’s another thing that I take pride in. Yet I digress…past teachers of mine would now simultaneously clamor: what else is new?!

This is where things stand for me in life currently: I am working a job that I absolutely love (on the weekends, I just salivate at the next opportunity to continue the search in vast and often dense habitats), I am getting ever so closer to beginning graduate school (and it is going to happen this year, because I do have at least one offer from a school; and one is all that I need, baby), and on top of these great things, my life is still remains less than ideal due to one social discrepancy.

The social discrepancy could be anything to you or me. Is it the culture war going on in the U.S.? No, but it’s still there whether you acknowledge it or not. Is it a lack of family support? Certainly not, for I have been continually blessed with a great family. Missing my friends, you ask? Maybe that’d have to be part of it. Is it the pain of past horrors still lurking behind the proverbial door? Perhaps not, since the mending of fences has commenced thanks to some recent courage and renewed faith. It is simple. It is natural. It is challenging. It is hard to come by, being so far away from familiarity (i.e. home). It’s…companionship. I seek companionship. I do not know in which form yet, but I do yearn for something new. SomeONE new. I have a minor streak of melancholy that will come out in these blogs, and this is where I am starting. Regardless of all of the things that I am so thankful for in my life right now (the job, the hope of graduate school, the happiness), I still selfishly look inward and further desire beyond my current state of circumstances.

This is my life. This is my theme. And this will be my story. All the while you may call it blind ambition, but I will label it as…sighted determination.

Leave a Reply