For some students, future careers can be foreshadowed by early interests in elementary and middle school. De Anna Beasley got hooked on science during a middle school frog dissection and has since gone on to study grasshoppers from Chernobyl and periodical cicadas in South Carolina. I recently asked De Anna to think back on her time as a middle school student.
Lea: You’ve told me that Science, English, Writing, Music and History were all your favorite subjects, why? What made those subjects so special??
De Anna: I really enjoyed reading and writing growing up (still do!) and history always reminded me of storytelling. I loved the sound of the cello and being a part of making music with the orchestra. Science was fun and interesting. We dissected a frog in the seventh grade and I think that’s what hooked me for good. I liked studying the patterns and organization of the biological system
“We dissected a frog … that’s what hooked me for good. I liked studying the patterns and organization of the biological system.”
Were you cool?
I don’t know.
Was anyone cool? Tell us what made you a cool student in your middle school.
I don’t believe I stood out in any particular way. I was always a sensitive but friendly person so I didn’t like to draw too much attention to myself. I had a small group of friends that I was very close with and I was happy with that.
Were you in any clubs, have hobbies or extra curricular activities?
I was in the school orchestra. I played the cello. I also started playing soccer for the varsity team. They didn’t have a junior varsity team at the time so it was my only way to play. It was very intimidating playing with older girls who had more skill and were not always patient with me. But I really loved the game and had a competitive streak in me. So I kept practicing and got better!
How did you get into science?
When my sister and I were young, we would play together outside. Sometimes she would fall and scrape a knee or something and I would take the time to disinfect and put a Band-Aid on the scrape. I liked the idea of helping people and taking care of them so I thought I wanted to be a doctor. As I got older, I really became interested in biology and understanding the patterns and organization we observed. In college, I took an ecology course and realized that I could also include the environment in that understanding.
Did you ever think you would become a scientist?
No! I thought I would be a doctor because I liked biology so much and I wanted to help people. I thought scientists were very analytical, impersonal and maybe a little cold (maybe I watched too many super hero movies). I thought scientists came from places like Harvard and worked in labs all day talking about abstract theories.
“I thought scientists came from places like Harvard and worked in labs all day talking about abstract theories.”
If you could give your middle school self some advice, what would it be?
I would tell my middle school self to explore different types of science, not just what is taught in class. I would join science clubs and/or outdoor clubs. And most importantly, have fun!