Week 10: One Last Time

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Tuesday, August 11, 2020


Samantha Creech

(Please excuse the Hamilton reference; I finally watched the musical and its soundtrack has been incessantly stuck in my head)

For this final blog, I’m going to steal Hale’s idea from last week. Rose-bud-thorn is a nightly debrief activity that UNCA’s Outdoor Programs (and, apparently, sleep-away camps in Wisconsin!) use on backpacking trips. Hale gave a great run-down, but I’ll give my own: the rose is one of your favorite parts of the day, the thorn is something that could have gone better, and the bud is what you look forward to. Throughout a backpacking trip, rose-bud-thorn tends to be dinner-sore feet-breakfast (or food-everything hurts-more food). But on the last evening of a great trip, as we reflect on the entire experience, rose-bud-thorn becomes a great way to process the things that we’ve really appreciated. For that reason, it seems appropriate to use rose-bud-thorn as the framework for this last blog entry (and thank you again, Hale, for the idea!).

I like to start with my thorn. In past blogs, I’ve written about the shortcomings of a virtual internship. I've already talked about my biggest thorn: the loss of in-person connection with the other interns. I’m a self-proclaimed sap; I live for giant group hugs and late nights spent laughing together. During my interview for this internship, Kayla told me that past intern cohorts grew into close-knit families, and I was really looking forward to becoming a part of that. I’ve enjoyed getting to know everyone through our virtual hang-outs, and I feel like we’ve truly become friends, but I mourn the connections that we missed out on.

With the thorn out of the way, next up is the rose. For the internship as a whole, it would be too difficult to choose a single concept or moment, so I’m going to share my rose for the week: the final internship symposium was– by a landslide– the best research symposium I’ve ever been to. For one, it was great to hear everyone share their diverse stories of the summer, and I loved listening to the excitement and passion that each intern had for their project. Before the webinar had gone live, we all signed on early to test our power points and chat. As we talked, Brad (for those who don’t know: Brad is the director of SPS and one of the friendliest people you will ever meet) made the grave mistake of disclosing his personal vendetta against comic sans. He also told us about a past cohort’s coordinated effort to make all the acknowledgment slides in that terrible font. The virtual nature of the symposium meant that we had access to our power points for last-minute changes, so almost every intern changed Brad’s name into comic sans on our final slide (Shout out to Kyle, the first presenter, for being the brave soul to do it first, and shout out to Hale for also including Brad's name in wingdings). I can't remember the last time I laughed that much, including when I almost got mauled. To Brad: I’m sorry that we put you through that, but thank you for being such a good sport. To the other interns: I know that, back in the thorn, I complained that we didn’t get to become a family. But I really appreciate the moments we did get to have, so thank you for all of those. 

Lastly, my bud: August is going to be a hectic month. I’m preparing for a three-month backpacking trip in the Rockies, applying to graduate programs and spring internships, finishing up a paper with my UNCA research mentor, and writing one last story for Physics Today. I also have an article ready for publishing, which will go out within the next few weeks. This hectic month is in preperation for a lot of great things. There’s a lot of uncertainty right now, and the future seems very hazy, but I’m excited to see what comes next. 

Signing off– one last time,

Samantha Creech