Saturday, November 4, 2017

Success story: First Latvian facilitator at the Leadership Workshop

A while ago, at the the beginning of August, there was held a Student Chapter Leadership Workshop in San Diego, USA. About 25 volunteer facilitators were needed to ensure that everyone attending the Leadership Workshop has a high-quality, small group discussion experience. Our University of Latvia (UL) SPIE Student Chapter long-term member, Dr.phys. Inga Saknite was happily chosen one of them.
Attenders of the Optics&Photonics 2017: (from the left)
Inga Saknite (ULSPIE), Mateusz Szatkowski (Wroclaw Student chapter),
 Matiss Lacis (ULSPIE), Nellija Liepina (ULSPIE).

The role of facilitator was to encourage and direct discussion during the student workshop. Though, this was about developing mentoring relationships with the next generation of optics professionals. The workshop featured popular instructor Jean-luc Doumont and covered leadership practices for both chapters and careers. 

Inga is sharing her experience: "Optics & Photonics 2012 was my very first SPIE conference and my first visit to the United States. I had just received Master’s degree in Physics from the University of Latvia and was looking forward to start the PhD program. The experience at the Leadership Workshop was incredible and, I think, was one of the major turning points in my scientific career. Afterwards, I became the president of the University of Latvia SPIE Student Chapter, organized several conferences, attended many more SPIE conferences and eventually finished my PhD. Long story short, five years later, here I am, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. I truly believe a lot of it is thanks to Optics & Photonics, the Leadership Workshop, and SPIE in general.

Optics & Photonics 2017 was my first ever experience as a facilitator at the Leadership Workshop. It was great to return to San Diego where “it all started”, the training with Jean-luc Doumont who is one of the most inspiring people I have ever met, and, of course, the workshop itself, interacting with students from so many different parts of the world. It sometimes seems like it was only yesterday that I attended my first Optics & Photonics conference, but being there five years later, I got to appreciate how much I have grown, learnt and how many connections I have made. This was also one of my main messages to the amazing students I got to interact with – use these conferences to network, interact with other researchers and make connections and collaborations that might one day lead to great scientific discoveries."

Thanks for sharing this story! UL SPIE Student chapter is happy about your success and wishing you to keep your passion about optics and photonics and have a great research career in your field.

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