Senior, Biology B.S.; Chula Vista, Calif.
Across the peaks of Kamuk, Buenavista, Uran, and Chirripo, I grew as an individual, was stunned by the picturesque montane cloud forest, and experienced the realities of field research. After five weeks of data analysis in San Diego, I was thrilled to hit the trails, but I quickly learned that field research is not for the faint-hearted. It requires stamina of both the mind and body. If you ask any of us, we would describe our multiple expeditions and day hikes as uphill both ways with backpacks half our weight, five feet of mud, and deer flies from hell; we would only be slightly exaggerating. These long days on the trail stressed and strengthened my mental determination, my faith that God will always extend His hand in protection and strength, and, of course, every muscle in my body. In the times when the backpack seemed too heavy to carry and my legs were too exhausted to take another step, I discovered that I carried a strength
within to overcome the physical weariness and push myself forward. At the end of each day, I found that all the challenges we endured were well worth the effort. I saw our hard work come to fruition in the moments when we felt the excitement of finding a new observation of a jaguar or a funny picture of a charismatic tapir. With each turn of the trail, a new view arose before my eyes, from mist drifting through epiphyte-laden oaks to peaks shrouded in clouds. For years to come, I will treasure the relationships I developed with my peers and our Tico partners, and the hysterical fits of laughter we shared over cups of hot chocolate and bowls of mac and cheese.
I saw our hard work come to fruition in the moments when we felt the excitement of finding a new observation of a jaguar or a funny picture of a charismatic tapir.
I have grown during these past two summers of research in both my mental and physical strength, as well as in the skills I have developed in data analysis and field research. These abilities have prepared me to graduate and begin the next chapter of my life working in education and research. Nevertheless, I will forever love to share stories of our adventures and the research we conducted in this unparalleled ecosystem that will always hold a little piece of my heart.