(by DaChawn Kincaid)

My time here is coming to a close. However, the experience that I have received will more than likely resonate with me for the rest of my academic career. Over this time I have been exposed to the concept of resilience, modeling and simulation, the saltiness of the ocean, and many other things that will stay with me even when I return home. This experience has helped me meet extremely intelligent and kind people as well as taught me a few things. It has taught me to always think deeper about what I read, that the term resilience has a tremendous amount of definitions, and to put thought in real life situations instead of relying on first judgement.

This experience taught me that it is well within my right to question scholars and their work. When I first began researching resilience I had a ton of information. This can be a good thing. However, in my case it was a problem. The information began to be too much and it had me going on tangents that did not really relate to what I had been tasked with speaking about. Dr. Padilla helped me in this regard. He told me to question some of the information I had researched and to figure out if some of it actually related to what I was meant to present. This advice helped me finish this internship. His advice will also help me to better succeed in the rest of my years in school.

This experience also taught me that resilience has many definitions and that there are different types of resilience. When I first began my research I thought resilience was the ability to recover from difficulty. This was not incorrect but I found that there are so many other definitions of this term. From psychological definitions to ecological definitions I found that resilience has a spectrum and that this spectrum has hundreds of ways to define resilience.

One of the last things this experience has taught me is that it is better to further explore certain real life situations in order to understand them better. An example of this can be found in the situation that is happening in Newport News. The apartment complex Aqua Vista has had the misfortune of their air conditioning not working this summer. My first thought was that this is terrible but people of the past survived without air conditioning.

Through observing conversations with colleagues at VMASC and further thought I realized something. I realized that this situation connects with what I had been researching. I realized that the changing of the ecosystem over time in Newport News may have increased the chance of lowering resilience in that community. In the past people had trees and other forms of vegetation to shield them from the harsh heat and light of the sun. Now, this area is surrounded by asphalt which keeps land hot. Couple that with the people of this complex suffering with no air conditioning and one can see how that affects that communities resilience.

Coupled with the things I learned are some things that I would like to learn more about. The thing I would like to learn more about most is modeling and creating simulations. This was something I had not been previously exposed to before arriving here. While here I got to gain experience with creating and understanding models. Now as I make my way home I may use the rest of this summer and some of my school semesters in learning this skill. I feel that it will be really useful to me in the future.

This experience has also helped me to think about life after college. More specifically, what I want to do with my life when I graduate. Before coming here my vision for my future was more blurry than others my age. I really did not have a clue of what I wanted my life to look like after school. The time I spent here gave me the opportunities to meet many people who work in many different fields and to think about what I want my future to be.

I am truly happy that I got the opportunity to participate in this internship I would like to thank Drs. Yusuf, Behr, Giles, Padilla, Frydenlund, Grigoryan, and the many other intellectuals and professionals I have meet along this journey. They exposed me to many life lessons, scholarly ideas, and sights of Virginia. This is something I may never be able to repay but am extremely thankful for.