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Friday, February 23, 2024

Finding my purpose in eight months

Science writing is the future




Why did I wait until I was a senior to start writing for The Aggie?

I ask myself that a lot lately, even though I already know the answer. Long story short, it came down to the pandemic, anxiety and a lack of confidence in myself. I try not to beat myself up over it since it’s not like I can turn back time. 

I keep asking myself, though, because I can’t believe how much my experience as a staff writer has done for me since just last October, and I wish I could have had more time. 

I always wanted to put myself out there more on campus, especially post-COVID after spending a year and a half behind a Zoom camera. I also knew that I liked to write. When I finally found it within myself to take the plunge and apply for The Aggie, writing for the science desk was a no-brainer, as it aligned well with my evolution, ecology and biodiversity major and my general passions. 

I was overjoyed to hear that I was hired and had earned a spot on the science desk. I could combine my enjoyment of writing with scientific topics I am interested in while also earning internship units for the professional writing minor I’d been working toward. I felt like things were falling into place. 

There was just one problem: suddenly I was a journalist! I had zero experience with journalism before coming to The Aggie, so I had to find my footing right away. I learned a lot in a very short time as I produced my first few articles; namely, how to navigate the article process from start to finish but also how to overcome the anxiety that followed me to the job. Before I knew it, I had a routine that would get me through the rest of fall pretty seamlessly and carry over into my winter and spring quarters. 

In these last eight months, I have grown so much both personally and professionally. I have realized how rewarding it is to be able to spread the word about research, clinical trials and other breakthroughs that are happening every day at UC Davis. In this role, I have learned about so many scientific fields that I never would have heard of before this job. 

More importantly, I have discovered the significance of science communication — specifically, bridging the gap between researchers and the public. After all, in order to make any impact on a community-wide level, science needs to be communicated in a way that can be understood by everyone, or else it can be cast aside and ignored. In my work, I’ve realized I want to make sure that science can’t be ignored.

On a personal level, I have also transformed completely as a person since the fall. I’ve overcome the social anxiety of holding interviews and talking to professors, doctors and other professionals. I’ve learned about a huge variety of research going on in scientific fields that I didn’t even know existed before. Most importantly, I have become a more confident writer and person, which I will carry with me into the future. 

I don’t exactly know what the future holds for me, but I am content with that fact. I know that I am leaving UC Davis as a self-assured, confident woman, in large part thanks to putting myself out there at The Aggie. I don’t think my seventeen-year-old self would have ever expected the college experience I ended up having, but I think she’d be proud of what I was able to overcome and accomplish. All I know for sure is that I want to continue writing about science, in whatever way that may be, because sharing science with the public in an understandable way has proven to be rewarding for me and critical for all of our futures. 


Written by: Lilly Ackerman


Lilly Ackerman is a staff writer on the science and technology desk at The California Aggie. She joined in October of 2022 and has enjoyed contributing science articles each week throughout her senior year. She is graduating with honors with a Bachelor of Science in evolution, ecology and biodiversity and a minor in professional writing.