A Bigger Picture
by Kevin He -- February 27th, 2013

Highlight. Control V, Paste. Left-click, Special Paste.

Just those few words, and a few more running in my mind (and noticeably less appropriate for certain audiences), comprise the dozen or so hours I spend at the hotel-like Nicholas Institute building down the road from the Duke Chapel. Endless hours become lost in a mist of a database that is now more than 8000 rows and around 30 columns. And this is only the beginning…

It’s all too easy to get fixated on a single cell with that bright yellow shouting “FIND THE INFORMATION TO FILL ME!” so it’s always important to take a small step back, breathe, and remember what this is all for. An individual cell doesn’t have that much importance, and in truth, the spreadsheet as a whole is only a smaller piece of a great big puzzle of “endangered species management,” which is a small part of preserving biodiversity, which is a portion of the largest goal of saving the world (of course).

But my current job isn’t the only place I forget the actual purpose. Let’s be honest here. I’m a 2nd-semester senior now and the clock is ticking. Haven’t applied for grad or law school (both of which ideally will be the plan at some point), and I’ve been job-hunting since May of last year. Thus far, 12 responses, all negative, and 0 responses of interest. I make a daily routine of sending a minimum of 1 application per day. But alas, no luck. But I digress… once again I lost sight of my purpose, this time of the post.

There are many avenues to helping the environment, be it finding a job in that sector, turning off the lights, or convincing a coal plant to shut down. Unfortunately one way not to do so is to get caught up in political finagling. The budget sequestration coming up this Friday is poised to shut down millions in funding for crucial environmental programs related to the Clean Water Act or Clean Air Act, among others, and is also partially to blame for my lack of a job. So I would like to urge anyone in some position of influence (which means everyone, since everyone can call their representative) to call your representative (here’s a useful link: and tell them to start running the country again. It’s time to look at the big picture.

1 Comment

  1. Tawnee
    Mar 8, 2013

    Excellent and timely post with a great message, Kevin. Hang in there! So many people forget to step back from such consuming work and remember to see the forest for the trees, so the fact that you’ve recognized this and are being vigilant is certainly more than half the battle.

    Everything always does and will work out in the end, so I have no doubt things will fall into place for you… though even the knowledge of this doesn’t make the journey any less confusing sometimes!

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