Be a Volunteer. It Can Be Rewarding!
When I joined the American Association of Anatomists (now the
American Association for Anatomy) as a postdoctoral fellow a
number of years ago, the last thing that I thought of was serving as
Secretary-Treasurer of the AAA. My Ph.D. degree was in Zoology
and it was happenstance that I was starting postdoctoral work in a Department of Anatomy.
However, as a I reflect on my career now, the path that has led to where I am today—teaching
histology and embryology in a medical school, studying blood vessel development, and serving as Secretary-Treasurer of the AAA—began with my first experiences at AAA meetings.
There I was introduced to the first members of a network of colleagues that has grown over the
years and has played important roles in my path to where I am now. I was recruited to my first
faculty position by one those colleagues. Others encouraged me to organize symposia for the
annual meetings. Many have inspired me with their research, provided insights into how they
teach, and shared their experiences as faculty members. Many have also become good friends,
and all have made the AAA a welcoming professional home for me.
When I was asked by a colleague and former mentor if I would be interested in chairing the
Journal Trust Fund Investment Committee for the AAA, I decided it was an opportunity to step
out of my comfort zone and become actively engaged in an association that has helped me with
my career. I accepted the offer and I am glad that I did. During the three years that I chaired the
committee, I not only received a good education from investment experts, but also had the
opportunity to engage with leadership at Board meetings, learn about governance, and be
exposed to a professional environment outside my academic world. It gave me confidence that I
too could play a role in keeping the AAA alive and vibrant, and introduced me to many talented
and visionary folks with strong leadership skills from whom I could learn.
Because of this experience, I wanted to stay engaged. Now that I am Secretary-Treasurer, I
look forward to taking on new challenges, new responsibilities, learning new skills, and working
with other Board members to ensure that the AAA is a welcoming, active, and strong
professional organization dedicated to its members.
Volunteering my time to the AAA has been stimulating and rewarding and I often wish that I had
become involved earlier. For this reason, I say to anyone who wants to contribute to the AAA:
don’t wait. Dive in and take advantage of the many volunteer opportunities available to
members. You never know where the experience will lead, but I am confident that you too will
find it rewarding.