Environmental Scientist Marlin Martinez’ Letter to Her Young Self

Marlin is currently a PhD student in Environmental Science Management at the Universidad del Turabo, in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. As an intern at the US Forest Service Pacific Wildland Fire Science Laboratory in Seattle, Washington, she performs investigations related to the issues arising from fire smoke emissions and their interaction with the atmosphere and the changing global climate.

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Dear Marlin,

What a strong and driven little girl you are! You decided to become a scientist when you were 4 years old. Many would say someone with such conviction and enthusiasm was meant to achieve anything. Eager to learn, you used an ironing board as an office desk, and spent hours in front of the television hoping to learn from local news weatherman and other weather related channels. Those were fun days.


Such determination helped you achieve in your education. Schoolwork was not a requirement, but something that you enjoyed greatly. Furthermore, you filled your days with extracurricular activities, leadership roles, and well deserved fun with singing, acting, and music playing.

Soon you will be seventeen and ready to go away to college. You will leave the beautiful beaches and sun from the island of Puerto Rico, to go to cold, snowy, and very lonely Pennsylvania. Nothing will matter, except for your one and only goal, to become a meteorologist. Against every advice, you will keep your decision of going away for college.

As soon as you leave, fears will conquer your spirit. Homesickness, cultural differences, and life circumstances will get the best of you. You’ll quickly become someone else, sad and hopeless. You will not see the future as you planned, and your goals will not be as sharp as before. You won’t be interested in learning anymore, and all you’ll want is to go home. Close family members will pass away while you are gone, the home that you used to know will change, and relationships will no longer be as they used to be. Your life will be best described as chaos; however, you will decide to fight against your own breakdowns.


I can assure you, you will not quit. After five very hard years, you will succeed on graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Air Quality Meteorology, and you will return home.

Sometimes, in the midst of the moment, everything seems a little odd, without clear answers. The days seem longer. Even a month seems too long to bear. At the point where you think it iss all over and done, stop. Breathe. It is a new beginning. As I look back, I can assure you, it does get better. You just have to hold on, and never let go of yourself.


You will succeed. Nowadays you are a Ph.D. student in Environmental Science Management. You show passion for research, smoke behavior and air quality. Let me advice you to get your strong girl suit on; you don’t get away with having just one hard time in life, but the good thing is that you did not quit, and will not quit. It does not matter how long it takes, you will get where you are meant to be.

Respectfully yours,

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