Everyone chooses their life path for a different
reason. I chose mine to learn everything I could
about the one thing I could never understand fully
- the universe and where it came from.
I grew up in a rural area just outside Hamilton,
Ontario, Canada and wasused to the nightly display
of diamond-like stars in the sky. I had no doubt
of the existence of our Milky Way, it was a sparkly
swatch across the sky above my backyard, but I didn't
fully comprehend what the Milky Way was. And it
never really occurred to me that anyone did.
In high school I took just about every type of
course one can take: mathematics, physics, biology,chemistry,
computers, English, writing, business, fine arts,
graphic arts, photography, history, sociology, geography,
drafting, housing design... as I said, you name
it, I probably took a course in it, graduating with
41 credits, 11 above the necessary 30. In Ontario,
you are required to choose a major for University
before you are accepted. I couldn't narrow it down,
there was just too much I wanted to do.
Four days before my application was due to the
guidance office, I still hadn't chosen a major.
I figured it would be a science, but had no idea
which one. My Guidance Counselor would just shake
her head, telling me I'd never be happy in university
with interests as diverse as mine. I sat at home
pondering what path my career should follow, what
field would keep me intrigued, challenged and always
learning. I wanted to know everything there was
about the universe... what field could possibly
show that? And so I chose to study the universe.
Actually I chose to major in Physics and Astronomy,
but it was a start. My guidance counselor's reaction
- a big smile and reassurance I could do anything
I wanted to.
Four years at York University in North York, Ontario
led to an Honours B.Sc in Astrophysics. A job with
one of my professors at York brought me to the Space
Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore for a conference.
I ended up working at STScI on a dare with a university
roommate - he would apply for a job as an athletic
trainer in Hawaii, and I would apply for a job with
the Hubble Space Telescope. I got the job... he
I came to Baltimore in 1997 and have worked as
a Program Coordinator the entire time. That professor
from York tried to keep me as a graduate student,
but knew he couldn't compete with the appeal of
the Hubble Space Telescope. I left Canada for, as
he put it, "the hot-seat of Astronomy".
And he wasn't kidding! Working in the operations
division of a major space-based observatory is fast
paced and challenging, but I love every minute of
it. I saw very quickly that what I'd learned in
four years of university was little compared to
the science taken with HST in a single day. I worked
with people I'd read about in textbooks and then,
about a year ago, I started working with people
who put pictures in newspapers: Hubble Heritage.