Recent studies that show casual contacts can be almost as important as close relationships with friends and family have caught my interest. Like many of you I found myself glad to say hello to fellow dog walkers I saw every morning during the pandemic. A hug from a neighbor or a kind word from my regular cashier at Publix can make my day. It turns out most of us feel the same way. These casual contacts have real psychological benefits.
The more I thought about these studies the more I realized our involvement in ARCS Atlanta provides many of these benefits. While I am fortunate to have several people in our chapter that I consider friends, working closely over the years with other members or having other members act as a mentor to me has been an incredible gift. There are still many people I don’t know very well and each time I attend a meeting or educational event I am grateful for the opportunity to get to know them better. All our members are interesting, intelligent women who are engaged in the community. In addition, they are fun to be around.
Members who are sponsors of scholars often remark that getting to know their scholar is so meaningful. Hearing from young scientists who are passionate about their research is infectious. Spending time with these young people makes us more hopeful about the future and brings us a fresh perspective. On a personal note, visiting with my scholar has been a real joy. Not only did I get to learn about her research, but she shared pictures of her glamorous chickens. She even brought us fresh eggs. Morgane Golan, the scholar we support, is not only a brilliant young scientist but also a fascinating person. As you attend the Scholar Awards Celebration, I’m sure you will find this to be true of all the ARCS scholars.
While the work we do to support young scientists is important, it also benefits each of us. While the research we support may have worldwide impact, the contacts we make through ARCS may have just as much impact on our personal health and well-being. Next time you get an invitation to a membership meeting, or an education event say yes! I know you will have an interesting conversation with a fellow member, hear a fascinating speaker and feel better knowing your support of ARCS Atlanta makes a real difference. Spend a minute saying hello to your fellow dog walkers, compliment your server at lunch or give a neighbor a hug. While most of us are not doing important scientific research we can still have an impact on the people around us.