By Dr. Paula Newsome
My dad was an avid hunter, but he would not take me hunting because I was a girl. Our bonding time involved me helping him clean his catch. While we eviscerated squirrels and rabbits, I became fascinated with cleaning the animals and learning the parts of the animals.
I didn’t realize it back then, but the whole process was a science lesson. I was fascinated by seeing hearts, guts and intestines. I was even more fascinated to learn that those same parts were in other animals that would appear on our dining room table. I immediately became acutely aware that while this may have been bloody and messy, I actually enjoyed it.
In the process, we would also put the game in saltwater to draw the blood out of it. This hypertonic solution preserved the game. So now, in addition to osmosis, I was learning the theory of preservation, similar to that used by the ancient Egyptians on their mummies.
I was learning science while bonding with my father. This process was repeated every Saturday that my dad went hunting over many, many years. Those Saturdays, combined with many science kits, chemistry lab processes and science classes, led me down the career path of wanting to be a health care provider.
Science seems to be an integral part of our life. It helps us understand how the body functions, why it rains and snows, how rainbows come about and so much more.
It amazes me when I hear kids in my office say that they don’t like science. It is almost like saying that they don’t like breathing. Science is the essence of all we do and all we are involved in. While science does not immediately attract most minorities, it is the essence of all that we are and all that we do, including from the geometry involved in our dance moves and the movement of our hips and the beat of our drums.
We are natural scientists, from Imhotep in Egypt to George Washington Carver to local astronaut Eve Higginbotham.
So what does it take to be successful at science? The same principles that it takes to do well at anything: setting goals and actualizing them. Visualize it, write it, execute it, evaluate it and then revise it if necessary.
Success takes written goals, otherwise known as a plan. Patience with some delayed gratification and persistence are for me part of a God-centeredness that keeps me grounded, covered and assured that I am well on my way to success, even if it appears that all around me things are falling apart.
After attending the N.C. Governor’s School in Natural Science and then attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in biology, I was recruited by the University of Alabama’s School of Optometry to pursue a degree. While there, I pursued an additional research degree in physiological optics. After graduation, I pursued a residency at The Eye Institute in Philadelphia, where I studied primary eye care. I had a brief teaching stint at the University of Missouri-– St Louis, teaching ocular pathology and, ocular pharmacology, I then opened my practice in Charlotte.
Some 30 years later, God has blessed me to still be passionate about my chosen career path. A path that started with gutting game with my dad led me to a lifetime career path that has served my community, the world through global outreach and mission, and my family and me well.
Dr. Paula Newsome is president of Advantage Vision Center.