How CCREEE Helped Me Find My True Academic Love
By: Dee-Ann Wood
“Find what you absolutely love and do the next best thing – you need to be able to step away from work and have a life.”
That was the advice my favourite lecturer gave to me as I completed my degree and was contemplating my next steps. It was great advice, except at the time I did not know what I loved. I am quite the science nerd but in a general sense; having pockets of knowledge from random Google search rabbit holes. Even as I did my Ecology with Environmental Science bachelor’s degree, I took every opportunity to enroll in out-of-faculty courses to explore other areas. Little did I realize that all those interests would align into a clear pathway.
As I thought about where my academic love and future career could lie, I dwelled on what was important to me. Being in the Caribbean and seeing the plethora of issues we face, it occurred to me that many of the changes which need to be made would be most effective on the individual level. A missing link I observed was lack of access to information that motivated these changes which appealed to individuals in the Caribbean. Throughout my experience exploring other disciplines, I noticed they each had a role to play in contributing to the solutions needed by the region. Another link not quite clear was one that allows for cross pollination of ideas, leading to the creation of unique solutions. I decided to become a pillar, forming those bridges and settled on either communications or policy as my pathway.
Interning at the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) is the perfect fit for me. The CCREEE acts as a central hub where finance institutions, governments, businesses and industry experts meet to collaborate for solutions in the Caribbean energy sector. CCREEE also has the mandate to disseminate the importance of the energy transition to the wider public. As Communications Intern, I am directly involved in creating those linkages between the technical energy world and the public. One exciting task I was assigned was arranging interviews across the region for the Project Preparation Facility. This process helped to introduce me to the inner workings of the CCREEE and understand the mass communications field. These interviews spanned June to August 2021. I was also exposed to policy although I quickly realized that was not the direction I wanted to go – not ‘next best thing’ status but a definite no for me.
However, being here at the CCREEE came with mixed feelings. Firstly, I am in the center of the energy space. To me energy is synonymous with pure physics, the only science I had a distaste for. After being introduced to the team with their multiple degrees and years of experience I was more intimidated than I initially admitted. It was difficult even to tell other interns from the rest of the team. Additionally, having a relatively front facing role in a regional institution comes with a higher level of responsibility and accountability in which my supervisor exhibited great trust in my abilities to adapt and succeed. These things triggered some performance anxiety. I recognized I had no choice but to grow into big girl shoes as this was an experience far too great to flunk.
Through it all, this experience helped find my true academic love: learning science related information and finding innovative ways to help others benefit from it. Bearing in mind the advice of my former lecturer, and helpful suggestions from my supervisor, I am also learning to balance this newfound love with all the rest that life has to offer.