Entering the second year of my master’s, I paused to think about the choices that led me here. Coming from Ottawa, I chose to move to Newfoundland to pursue an undergrad in marine biology, at Memorial. That decision was apparently a surprise to most who knew me, as I had not shown any sort of extraordinary interest in marine anything up until that point. One choice, I realized, that led me here was when I enrolled in forensic archaeology on a lark to fulfill the breadth of knowledge requirement, and I absolutely fell in love with it. The following semester I shifted gears entirely and declared an archaeology major and history minor, and I have never looked back.
Choosing historic archaeology as a focus stream was the next decision I sort of fell in to. As a requirement, I took the MUN archaeological field school that was hosted in Tors Cove, NL, and was taught by Catherine Losier, a professor I had met briefly in another class but got to know better through this experience. I got along with Catherine well, and realized I had a knack for ceramic identification (how else would one discover a knack like this, really?), and volunteered extra hours to help with post-excavation (a long, long process for those who don’t know). This volunteering led to numerous contracts throughout the year doing the same thing and coordinating volunteers. My ability to label small objects with calligraphy pens, organize large collections of very small pieces of ceramics, and my (rusty) bilingualism landed me a position as assistant to the archaeologist with the next MUN field school in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, France as a laboratory assistant. So, I fell further into ceramic identification and started to focus on the French colonial fishery.
As I worked, I started to ask questions about the materials in front of me, and eventually voiced them out loud. With Catherine’s guidance I undertook an honours thesis to tackle some of the questions I had. None were more shocked than I was, that I actually liked research, having always been a mediocre student with little preference to be indoors, in general. The stress of writing was nothing compared to the sense of accomplishment that came along with holding my printed thesis. It was a point of pride, and while I would absolutely change some of it, I wouldn’t change the experience that writing it gave me, and where it has led me since. I suppose my point is this: it’s okay if you don’t have a master plan (or a masters plan). Saying “yes” to opportunities and finding passion for your work is equally as important as having a plan. You never know where a monosyllabic response will lead you, and you never know if it will be the best choice of your life.
These are the broad facts, the biggest decisions that have led me to where I am now. I realized all of the choices I made that have led me down this path came from me saying “yes” to opportunities I was uncertain about. I’m lucky. I was given the chance to join a team of very talented ladies who have encouraged me and helped me along this academic path. They have each broadened my horizons in ways I could never have predicted that made me a better researcher, archaeologist, and person. I have also been fortunate enough to have the unwavering support of my friends and family.
And so, in hindsight these big choices (and many more small ones) have landed me here. I have lived in Newfoundland for six years, completed one degree and am halfway through another. I am currently studying the French colonial empire through the ceramic consumption of fisherman who lived on a small island I have come to love. I’ve had opportunities to travel to places I’ve only dreamed of and places I never thought I’d go. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with wonderful people in Canada and abroad. I have presented at conferences and written for journals. I have research questions going in a million different directions I want to pursue. My choices to say “yes” have helped form my adult life in ways I would never guessed they would have as a seventeen-year-old, stepping off a plane, and starting university to be a marine biologist.