Meet Emelia Chamberlain, Your Antarctic Ambassador
There are few moments in a person’s life that can be described as once in a lifetime. In fact, by definition that seems to be the case. There are many other ambiguous moments, often fleeting, that occur infinitely until finally that person’s chances are up. Now, these moments are punctuated by memories, smiles, laughs, tears… and most importantly those special once in a lifetime moments that everyone talks so much about.
Now, in my past, I like to believe I’ve had a few of those moments myself. Being born seems an important activity, and it does only happen once. Being on stage (even if not performing) at Lincoln Center in NYC was an exciting time - and graduating from high school as Salutatorian was a fairly cool experience - but it really wasn’t until this past summer that the words “once in a lifetime experience” really began being thrown around me. More specifically in conversations with people who ask me what classes I’m taking this semester - my sophomore year at Boston University.
This is because I’m NOT actually taking classes this semester. I am going to Antarctica. Which, as everyone has said, is a once in a lifetime opportunity. As much as I jest, it really truly is an amazing opportunity and I couldn’t be more excited - and terrified - but mostly excited. It’s the single most interesting, challenging, scholastic, and just plain awesome thing that I have ever undertaken! I’ve loved the research so far, and I’m sure the real deal will be even better!
My first introduction to this program happened a while before I even came to BU. I was a junior in high school just starting my college visits. BU was at the top of my list because I had fallen in love with the city of Boston, the Red Sox, and snow early on. Plus BU had one of the best marine programs in New England and I really wanted to be near the ocean. Anyway... after the tour I scheduled meetings with some professors in fields that I was interested in, including Professor Lawford Anderson in the department of Earth and Environment. At that time his office was hidden away in the Stone Science Building, though I didn’t know it was called that at the time. My parents and I trudged into CAS, passing room after room, display after display. Eventually, we passed a display for the BU Antarctica trips. I distinctly remember pointing it out and thinking “that’s so cool, I doubt I would go though.” It certainly distinguished BU as a school with an active research department.
Anddddd that’s all I thought about it until, September of my freshman year, I received an email.
It was all very exciting. It was the first year of the program and I had been chosen!! I couldn’t believe I had the opportunity to go to lectures, learn how to communicate and do scientific outreach for something that I was so passionate about… as a freshman! I had always been interested in climate science. When I was about 12, I published monthly neighborhood newsletters on my street. My neighbor and I split the work, but I always included a page with tips on how to be more eco-friendly. Of course, this was all a long time ago, and now, joining this program, I have real opportunities to do real outreach. Most importantly I could work in a real lab, and would have the option of internship over the summer. It was a dream come true for a freshman, and that’s even neglecting the possibility of a trip to Antarctica!
The rest of freshman year was spent attending class, working in the lab, listening to lectures, and doing outreach events like Earth Day. It was a lot of fun, especially since my BURECS classmates are actually the best people, and somehow made those 9 A.M.s enjoyable. Then came summer where I had the opportunity to work in the Fullweiler lab. I learned a lot and met lots of cool people. It was an experience I never thought I would have so soon after starting school. Plus enjoying the summer in Boston was a treat… I might be addicted to the aquarium.
Then finally, after waiting and waiting, I found out that I was one of the ones selected to actually GO TO ANTARCTICA. I could hardly breathe I was so excited… although that may have been because I made about 10 phone calls and did not stop rambling about it for the rest of the night. Although, even after the rigorous medical tests I’ve been subjected to this summer… it still hasn’t quite sunk in. It’s almost a kind of shock. I know it’s happening, I’m excited, but my brain still can’t wrap itself around the idea that it’s really me, I really am going! And honestly, that’s no surprise - it is, after all, a once in a lifetime opportunity.