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Meet: Karen Dodson

Crew Coordinator

Photo of Karen Dodson on hike

Who I am - words that describe me:
Hmmm, reflective, enthusiastic and I like to see the humor in things.

Karen with group on climb My personal challenges:
Last summer I did two fairly long climbs. We had a little trouble on the first one in New Mexico and had to retreat. When it came to do the next one in California a month later, I was a little scared. I hardly talked the whole day before. A picture of me at the start of the climb looked like a deer stuck in the headlights. I think the hardest part of that climb was starting. Parts of the climb were tough, but we did it. I was euphoric afterwards. It's funny how the things that you struggle with are the things that mean the most to you.

My career challenges:
I believe that anything you choose to do should be done well and with enthusiasm. I believe a positive attitude affects everything you do, and it is totally in your control to have a positive attitude.

My career:
What do I do in my career? A little bit of everything, and a lot of whatever needs to be done. I started out doing science writing for NASA and now I also work with Life Sciences Education Outreach. I love it, there is never a dull moment and the people I work with are the most positive, creative people around.

Likes/Dislikes about career:
The best part of my career, and life in general, is learning. I love learning and figuring things out. I also like meeting inspirational people. I've been lucky to come across a lot of interesting and hard working people in my job. Working with them has a synergistic affect on me.

Karen with neices The only thing I would change about my career at the moment is the fact that I sit at a desk most of the day. I plan to work towards a career that involves more physical activity. I took my niece climbing in a gym the other day and we both loved it. She loved climbing, and I loved teaching and watching her get excited about it. I would like a career doing that sort of thing.

Influences:
I have had many mentors in my life, and I credit most of my significant accomplishments to mentors of one form or another. Relative to this project, my biggest mentor was my friend and roommate in college. She would go running everyday, and no matter what excuse I had, she would always get me up and running with her. Being in shape and feeling the strength of your body is empowering, it helps me in many aspects of my life.

My biggest life influence comes from my parents. My Dad pushes me to be my best and my Mom gives the unconditional "mom" support that people need. Both of them have taught me to be responsible and to see the beauty in the world.

Future goals:
I plan to climb a mountain in Nepal called Ama Dablam within three years. It is a 6,828 meter peak southwest of Everest (or Sagarmatha) and it is beautiful. Climbing and backpacking has taught me so many things about the world and myself. First of all, the sheer beauty of nature is one of the most inspirational forces I can think of. Second, I like being with my friends and struggling to achieve new goals. But the most important thing about climbing is looking at something that at first may look daunting (sometimes impossible) then, through your physical and mental will, you find you are able to summit.

My other goal is to run the Redwoods half marathon in October with my friends. This is very important to me because when I finished school and started a "regular" job, I slacked off on my running and sports. Sometimes the hardest thing about staying in shape is committing the time. My big "Challenge" right now is carving out that time and sometimes fiercely defending it.

Karen with father, brother and friend Personal information:
I have a great and crazy family that is largely responsible for my nuttiness, I mean uniqueness. My Dad is an avid runner. He runs ultra-marathons and will be running the Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run while we are doing the Challenge project, a fitting coincidence! I have a brother who is a programmer also in the Bay Area, he is a newlywed as of August. I have a sister and brother-in-law who have three daughters. I plan on taking them for many adventures in their lifetime. I also have four "adult" fish and a new baby fish. They are a substitute for having a dog, but I haven't managed to get them to go outside and run around with me. I love "garage sailing", reading and doing anything outdoors. The next thing I'd like to learn is whitewater kayaking.

Karen on rafting trip

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