GeminiFocus April 2018 | Page 3

Laura Ferrarese Director’s Message Gemini: So Much More Than a Place of Employment Hello, Aloha, and Hola, everyone. Uncharacteristically, the opening of this issue’s Director’s Message is not about science but about people: the people who make the science happen, and those whom they in- spire. Each year, the beginning of March marks two very special events for the Gemini facilities in Hawai’i and Chile. This year, during the week of March 5th, along the eastern side of the Big Island of Hawai‘i, over 80 STEM professionals visited 300 plus classrooms, where their presentations, demonstrations, and workshops inspired over 8,000 students, from elementary to high school. The program, Journey Through the Universe, started 14 years ago at various locations across the US. As the original grant that funded it has run its course, Journey has faded everywhere else, but in Hawai’i it has been growing steadily with each passing year. I had a small part in this year’s Journey, participating in a “career panel” at the local Hilo High School, where my colleagues and I shared our paths that led us to our present ca- reers, the challenges we encountered, and the opportunities that the observatories can offer. I confess that I entered my first classroom with some trepidations: how will the stu- dents (9th graders!) react? Will they be interested? Or will they just sit there wishing they were somewhere else? How misplaced my concerns were. The students were delightful — shy at first, perhaps, but attentive, interested, and curious. I left wishing I could do more, regretting how little time I can devote to outreach, and desperately searching for an excuse that would allow me to find myself on the Big Island, one year from now, at the beginning of March! April 2018 GeminiFocus 1