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Mentor Event with Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Posted on Wednesday, December 6, 2023

ARCS-MWC hosted an out-of-this-world event on Nov 14 for ARCS-MWC Scholars and Scholar Alumni to mingle with chapter members and ARCS Scholar Alumnae, including the world-famous astrophysicist, Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson!

Dr. Tyson was an ARCS Scholar in 1991 at Columbia University while earning his PhD in Astrophysics. He was elected to the ARCS Hall of Fame in 2018. He is Director of the Hayden Planetarium and has hosted educational science radio programs and television shows, including Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. 

Rebecca McNeilly, an ARCS-MWC board member who works at Kestra Medical Technologies, Inc., developed this amazing event in response to Scholar requests to meet Scholar Alums for mentorship and networking. Sponsors included Kestra and—through ARCS-MWC member Lorraine Barclay Nordlinger—Sotheby’s International Realty. Rebecca and Lorraine said it was an honor to co-host the event! Rebecca added: “Our Scholars need to present their research to many audiences and Dr. Tyson is a scientist who easily relates to audiences who are new to science or prominent scientists themselves.”

After mingling at The City Club of Washington, the attendees were escorted backstage at the Warner Theater to meet Dr. Tyson. He talked with the ARCS-MWC group for 25 minutes, including Dr. Ori Fox, another stellar astronomer and ARCS-MWC Scholar alum. Julie Hohl, Co-President of ARCS-MWC, recounts that Dr. Tyson said that his ARCS award greatly supported his academic career. After Patty Sparrell, Co-President of ARCS-MWC, concluded by thanking Dr. Tyson, he headed onstage for his show “Astronomy Bizarre,” cheered on by the enthralled ARCS-MWC attendees in the VIP section!

The Scholars and Scholar Alums would like to make it an annual event and offered accolades and positive comments! A Scholar Alum “would love to stay involved” with ARCS MWC. Two Scholars said:

About Dr. Tyson’s comments

  • After Dr. Tyson mentioned “Don Quixote’s stubborn persistence” in response to a question if he was ever disillusioned with science, Mazda said: “. . .it’s nice to think of [research] as an epic journey instead of focusing on the most difficult moments.” Mazda Moayeri, University of Maryland
  • “The opportunity to meet him beforehand and to hear him present in person was absolutely inspiring. If I had a highlight reel of my graduate school experience, this would definitely be in it!” Gigi Pavur, University of Virginia

The event is already spurring networking!

  • Gigi Pavur and another ARCS MWC Scholar who realized they are both from Atlanta are “making plans to grab coffee when we are both home over winter break!” Gigi Pavur, University of Virginia

To view the full gallery of photos, click here.

(All Photos Courtesy of Lorraine Nordlinger)