"I love convincing people who hate science that it's not such a bad thing after all."
Growing up the Pacific Northwest, Shannon Rupert loved the outdoors and saw plenty of forests, but now she sees the trees -- and plants and flowers -- from a scientist's perspective.
"Very early on, I was interested in the logging issues of the Pacific Northwest," Shannon says. "I was intrigued by the balance between progress and the environment." Today Shannon can explain complex biological issues while enjoying nature on a pleasant day.
No one in Shannon's family had attended college, but when she arrived in Southern California in 1989, she says she was surprised by how inexpensive learning at the community college level was. A single parent, Shannon majored in biology at Miramar College, while also working as a part-time lab technician in the science department.
After transferring to UCSD, Shannon earned her bachelor's degree in biology while working part-time as a chemistry technician at MiraCosta College. She was promoted to full-time lab tech at MiraCosta, when her former Miramar instructor Ric Matthews offered a bold suggestion. "He said, 'Why don't you convince Cal State San Marcos that you should be their first master's student in biology?'" Shannon recalls. So she did, and became the first graduate of that program.
"Botany at Miramar is what got me started on the plant thing," Shannon says. "I grew up in a poor family, where college wasn't considered. But I found out that community college is for everyone."
Shannon taught a biology class at Miramar in fall 2001 while she prepared to enter the doctoral program at the University of Maryland in fall 2002.
"Teaching is where I'm headed," Shannon says. "I like research. My favorite class is teaching biology to non-majors. I may not be saving the planet, but I'm working hard to make people realize science is part of our everyday lives."
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