My Name Is Sara

My name is Sara. Thankfully, my story doesn’t involve physical abuse as many of the exploited and mistreated women who were brave enough to share theirs. First, I want to say thank you for your courage. 

My Worst Moment:  I spent the first two years of graduate school in suffering. I had received an internship with a well-known scientific government organization, with an influential mentor. After a while, this internship turned into my Master’s thesis, and so I continued to work with him.

This guy was a leader in his field, a top employee, someone with power and influence. Everyone from colleagues to friends mentioned disliking him and his behaviors and experiencing his viciousness – but no one seemed to do anything. He was protected, not just by those above him, but also by everyone below, because they experienced all this and figured, “that’s just how he is.” It was his lack of compassion and social skill that lead to my psychological breakdown in graduate school, after which he – without warning – took away my thesis project, which I had already worked on for over a year, stating that I am no longer allowed to use my own data that I collected, organized, and slaved over for months after an arduous field season which caused me multiple permanent physical injuries. During this time, my mentor did nothing but mock me behind my back, tell me I am too slow, and continuously fail to properly communicate with me and my committee. Well, “that’s just how he is,” huh? No one deserves that kind of easy excuse for beating people down, being nasty to colleagues, and ruining students’ lives. No one. So, I decided to take action.

Going through Title IX was hell for multiple reasons, having to do with my school’s slow response, the constant stress of questioning myself and my actions, and re-living everything that I just wanted to forget. It took a full year for a meeting with a lawyer, and even after this I was told that the conclusion of this case is classified. To this day I don’t know how things ended.

architecture is a visual art, and the buildings speak for themselves..jpg

I Have Given Up On: Sitting by idly while things like this happen to women and girls everywhere. It is shameful and appalling that in 2018, we are still devalued and showed bias against just for being or identifying as female. This type of treatment ruins lives, crushes dreams, and sets us up for failure. No more. 

I’m Afraid: That my future as a scientist in my field is ruined. With someone so powerful and influential spreading nothing but hate about me (and many others), how can I redeem myself to potential future employers and colleagues, who do not even know me? I am afraid that this fight may be lost before it even begins. 

This Has Cost Me: Mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially in many ways. I have scars and permanent injuries due to my mentor’s lack of guidance in preparation for my first season of field work. I had to take an entire extra year of graduate school, costing me over $10,000. I had to start completely over and give up my life to complete a new thesis project in a single year. I had to go to counseling for half a year in order to be okay, to believe that it isn’t all my fault, and to pursue action.

Something You Should Know About Me:As early as two years ago, I would not have had the courage to share any of this. Now, I see that I am not alone – and neither are you! Together we are stronger. Please, if you need support, or just someone to vent to, contact me on Twitter (@GlacialSara).

Is There a Bright Side:Throughout this whole process – from mental breakdowns, physical health plummeting, and constant stress and anxiety – I have found friendship and a support network stronger than I could imagine. So many women stepped up to help me and encouraged me to pursue action after what happened to me. It is only with their help that I can say: I am not afraid. 

My Fight Song: No Apologies by Jojo (YouTube Link)

Secret Weapon:Cats. Cats make everything better.