New College Alumna Cindy Adams ('78)Describe yourself in 50 words or less.

I have a wonderful family and enjoy a role in an organization with a mission that stirs me passionately. I’m tenacious, caring, a science enthusiast and thankful for my friends. I’m motivated by a lofty vision and working with remarkable, committed individuals. I am the Executive Director of Scientists in Schools.

Why did you choose New College (be honest) and what were your expectations?

Not for any reason you would imagine! I turned to my dad, Professor Neil Field in the Department of Geography, for his advice. He encouraged me to head to New College because he said that I would enjoy the intellectual and social environment there. But I discovered later the real reason was that he loved the Mac and Cheese in New College’s Dining Hall.

While we had many enjoyable lunches together (his was always Mac and Cheese), I was very pleased with all that New College had to offer me.

What was New College like when you came?

It was like its name – vibrant, new and high energy. Compared to other colleges, the diversity was greater and this made for a wonderful enriching experience. I found many friends from different cultural backgrounds, whereas previously I had grown up in a Toronto suburb with little diversity.

My first year wasn’t all rosy however. I was fraught with concern about my grades. By the half-way point in the year I was failing two courses (math and physics), despite tremendous focus and hard work. I was very fortunate that the tutorial lab run by New College was amazing, and there I found the kind of mentorship that not only built my confidence, but also helped me gain a wider perspective on how to learn. While many first-year students struggling in these same courses dropped them, I stuck it out and passed.  It was a valuable lesson that perseverance pays off.

Was there anyone in particular at New College who had a strong influence on your life or made a lasting impression on you?

The tutorial assistants – they collectively gave me the confidence, empowerment and skills to pass my first year math and physics. That achievement meant more to me than my A’s in biology and geography!

How did your academic and social experience at the University/College prepare you for life and your career?

I discovered that success isn’t just about knowledge … it requires attention to relationships, a curious mind, balance and a good dose of tenacity.

I also learned a great deal about myself.  I found that I was sparked by scientific investigation through the lab components of my courses and had a curious and analytical mind. I also really liked working with people and expanding my network of relationships. These valuable learning experiences later helped me see the possibilities for Scientists in School and help it grow from a grassroots community initiative into a very successful charitable organization with a mission to ignite scientific curiosity in children so that they question intelligently, learn through discovery, connect scientific knowledge to their world, and consider careers in science.

What are your major accomplishments and who had the most influence on your career?

I have wonderful children and their successes are the most important things I’ve personally achieved.

From a career perspective, it’s been my privilege to have helped shape Scientists in School. Its success is truly a reflection of the passion, wisdom and energies of three groups – our frontline classroom workshop presenters, staff team and Board of Directors.

The person who has had the most influence on my own career and life is my husband Jeff through his support and encouragement. He literally adopted Scientists in School as part of our family life. Not only is he a key mentor for me, but he’s put up with loads of crazy surprises, from last minute announcements that I have an evening event, to not knowing what he might find stored in our freezer for eager young scientists to investigate.

In your personal or professional life, what are you most looking forward to?

Lots more laughter than tears; helping others succeed; embracing new adventures; loads of family and friends time; medical and environmental breakthroughs; Scientists in School reaching its 10 millionth student scientist!