Wow. I am honored to have been named a 2021 NSF Graduate Research Fellow. I honestly still can't believe it. What's more, my incredibly talented, dedicated, and amazing friend and labmate Renata Poulton Kamakura was also selected as a fellow this year. I'm so proud of the both of us, and still reeling from the announcement.
I know that my worth isn't determined by grants or fancy fellowships, but my self-esteem has definitely been boosted by this award. All the congratulations from friends, family, and colleagues; reading such uplifting and encouraging reviewer comments; and the immediate reduction of stress when thinking about the future have all been a huge boon. I tend to have a rather low self-esteem and have always been a bit insecure when it comes to my accomplishments, but I've noticed that lately this award has allowed me to be a bit kinder to myself and a bit less over-humble about my achievements.
One reviewer comment in particular stands out to me: "I also want to acknowledge that this math-heavy (modeling-heavy) proposal was very easy to understand, a rarity amongst modelers." This. This is exactly why I am here and what I think I can truly contribute to science and to society in general. To know that my math-heavy proposal was clear and understandable is honestly the highest praise I could have asked for. I hope to continue this communications trend throughout my career.
If anyone is interested in chatting with me about their own NSF proposal, please send me an email! I'd be happy to advise.