Standing on Shoulders

In the States, we tend to overemphasize individual merit.  While there’s something to be said for pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, you never actually do that all alone.  There are always others there providing ideas, support, and know-how.

Surrounding yourself with good role models is key to achieving big things.  You need to hang around people who are curious, passionate, and driven to make a difference.  They help you see what’s possible and how to achieve it.

One my best role models is my mom, Dr. Cynthia Mara, who recently completed her own Fulbright to Canada.  A Fulbright representative actually recruited her for that position because the US needed to send someone with mom’s expertise.  While in Canada, she researched health care and interviewed people about how well their single-payer system works. There’s a photo of mom below.

Another of my role models is Dr. Pamela Eddy, a professor of higher education at The College of William and Mary. She joined W&M in 2009, at the same time she was a Fulbright to Ireland.  Her success reminded me of the goals I’d set for working in Ireland.

They both gave ideas and encouragement, helping me hone my Fulbright proposal and connect to important people.  I am grateful to have their shoulders to stand on.

Mom and me at the photo exhibition “Exposed” at the Meyer Gallery in Norfolk, Virginia.


  1. When talking about models we need to also think on how we are supporting others to achieve their dreams. Thank you for the words – it made me ponder how I have being this ‘cheerleader’.

    I remember when you took an hour of your day to share ideas with me about my master’s project – it made a huge different! Your enthusiasm for learning was and is contagious!!

    And talking about moms – I can add here my mom’s interest for research and how she inspired me to enjoy studying and love nature. She is now doing her PhD in sanitary engineering (slow sand filtration) and despite all life’s struggles (and Brazil’s laboratories ‘challenges’) she moves on having the betterment of society and a passion for research as mottos.

    I am so grateful to have them as role models!



    1. Your mom passed to you her curiosity, as well as her interest in sanitation (thanks for bringing passion to that subject in our “Planning for Sustainability” class last summer)! Your excitement helps make it all worth while!



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