Graduate Student Spotlight: Kea Payton, President of the Graduate Students of Color Association

President of Graduate Students of Color

President, Graduate Students of Color

I am a third year Marine Biology Master’s Candidate conducting research on the zooplankton exposure to microplastics at flood tidal fronts in the Charleston Harbor. I am also President of the Graduate Students of Color Association and Treasurer of the Charleston Waterkeeper Club.

Why did you select CofC?

Having been born and raised in SC, I knew quite a bit about Charleston and The College. My family and I use to visit for vacation from the upstate all the time. I actually started filling out an application to attend here as an undergrad, but I was pulled toward Wilmington, NC instead. When applying for a Masters in Marine Biology, I knew CofC had a good reputation and it wasn’t the five-hour drive home as my undergraduate institution was.

Under the Sea

Under the Sea

What is your favorite place on campus?

As a marine biology student studying at Grice Marine Lab, I am not exposed to the main campus in the same way as many of my colleagues in other disciplines. However, from what I do know, my favorite place is Harbor Walk. Not the inside, but the outside. I love having access to a beautiful view of the Harbor and access to a dock on the peninsula where I can collect samples for my research.

What does diversity mean to you?

As my dad would say “its having to not look at the same color people all the time,” ha. In all seriousness though, diversity and having a diverse community, in my opinion, is so important. In order to evolve, learn, and help each other, it is imperative that we not only “surround yourselves with like-minded individuals” as one may often hear, but to also surround yourself with people that don’t look like you, love like you, come from where you came from, etc. Being able to incorporate all of these people in a community, whether that’s in a classroom or in the workplace, allows for the status quo to be questioned which then brings about positive change.

Under the Sea

Under the Sea

Advice to graduate students?

My advice to graduate students would be to work hard and don’t feel like you need other’s affirmation to know that you are doing a good job. The key is to continue to work hard. It is important to communicate ideas and questions with others, but it is also ok to work on your own from time to time. In addition, have fun! In my opinion, it is important to put down your graduate work every now and then and do something spontaneous or something you really enjoy doing. This will feed your creativity, social-life, or other aspects you feel you are missing from focusing on your graduate studies. It is easier said than done, I know, but it helps keep you sane and may open up other opportunities you were not expecting.

Looking and Discovering

Looking and Discovering

For more information on Graduate Students of Color: https://www.facebook.com/CofCGSCA/

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