Inspiring Stories – Motivational Journeys
January 13, 2020

Inspiring Stories – Motivational Journeys

In this EPEC Inspiring Outreach Story, Rutu Parekh, a second year PhD student at the DLR Institute of Planetary Science and Chair of the EPEC Diversity Working Group, tells us about a recently launched EPEC project entitled ‘Motivational Journeys’. 

‘Motivational Journeys’ is a collection of interview recordings which I started together with several of my EPEC colleagues. The story behind this idea is very much personal to me. As a doctoral student, every day I struggle to improve myself in work and sometimes this struggle gets ahead of me. As a consequence, it takes me hours and sometimes days to get back to my work. During these tough times, I need a reminder of my capabilities and an assurance that all this struggle will be worth it one day. To overcome these feelings, I used to look for talk shows or books to provide me with reassurance. I realised how these narratives help to rebuild my confidence and that’s why I decided to create ‘Motivational Journeys’. Later I discussed this idea with my colleagues and they encouraged me to transform it into reality. 

Initially the execution seemed deeply challenging. However, later on Maarten Roos and Anita Heward stepped in to provide all the necessary support in filming the interviews and putting them online.

For the ‘Motivational Journeys’ we have interviewed scientists who are specialised in their respective field. They have shared their journey to become a scientist – a path which has been full of obstacles, difficult choices and hard times.

Each of them was brought up in a different environment and culture. The only thing in common between them is the quest for science and courage to never give up on their dreams under any circumstances, even though they were aware of the fact that their passion demands constant dedication and hard work. Today each of the scientists are successful in their respective field and have managed to put forward some wonderful scientific work with their constant commitment. 

In today’s era, early career scientists face lots of troubles regarding mental pressure, difficulty in surviving academia, gender biasing and constant issues of self-doubts. This sometimes has led them to leave the scientific career or can lead to mental and physical health problems. Many of them are not always comfortable sharing their problems out loud or discussing it with their colleagues or friends. In tough times, they may need a bit of motivation to give them reassurance and help them to pass the rough days. With this series, we hope to reach younger generations and inspire them to become successful researchers in the years to come.

By participating in this project, I have not only heard new stories, but it has also helped me to understand the true meaning of struggle. While talking with all of them I realised that it is not necessary to always be successful in the work we do. It’s not the only the successes that matter, sometimes failure also teaches us lifelong lessons. I believe that sharing such stories is beneficial not only for young scientists, but also for the public because it shows the level of dedication that has been put into every minute detail, and the circumstances that scientists work under. We should not only show the results of our work publicly, but it is also important to make sure that future generations of students are aware how academia and research work. 

To date we have released three interviews, with five more scheduled. You can hear the personal stories narrated by scientists here or follow Rutu on: 

Twitter: @icy_planetnerd

Do you like this story and want more? Browse our archive of EPEC Inspiring Stories and get inspired!