There are days when I absolutely cannot believe that I am lucky enough to attend Mount Holyoke College. Today is one of them.
This is Professor Darby Dyar, known to most of her students as Darby. She is one of those rare intellectual types who is in equal measure incredibly smart, good at what she does, justifiably respected and renowned for her expertise, and an unbelievably wonderful human being.
Besides being the smartest person I have ever met, set aside taken a class with, Darby is the sweetest, most genuinely caring professor on campus. I switched into her first-year seminar this past fall, and it was probably the smartest decision I have ever made. While the seminar was technically on Mars and its prospects for human habitation, Darby’s class taught me so much more than what the class description indicated. Darby was the first professor to ask me and my classmates how we were coping with college, how we were doing in our first, most vulnerable semester away from home. We would go around the table, talking about what was going on in our lives, and try to come up with things we could do to make our transition into college life easier. She helped me and my classmates see that we were not alone, that it was okay to be lonely and sad and scared, because we were all feeling that way. We started to understand that our experiences were linked, and that we could help each other be better, be more involved in the community, and communicate with each other in a more effective way.
She coordinated a “field trip” to the library one day, so that we could get a guided tour of the mammoth building that Mount Holyoke uses as its information hub. I had never even been outside of the LITS center or the main lobby area until Darby’s field trip. I probably wouldn’t have delved deeper into what is easily the most beautiful labyrinth of knowledge on the planet if it weren’t for Darby. Darby also had speakers come in to talk with us about how to do presentations in college. She herself taught us how to speak confidently and be taken seriously in a college setting.
Darby taught us so much more than whether or not Mars has a chance of being habitable. Now, she’s getting the recognition she deserves for the incredible scientist she is.
Long story short, Darby and a few of her students have been working on the upcoming Mars project, Curiosity, and it’s constituent parts. This video explains her part in the project much better than I ever could. Watch, and be blown away by how incredible this woman is, both personally and as an intellectual.
I will always, always be grateful for the opportunity to study with Darby. I am constantly overwhelmed by the incredible experiences Mount Holyoke provides its students. This woman teaches first-years. First-years. No other college has world-reknowned NASA scientists teaching terraforming and inter-planetary habitability to first-years. I love my school so, so much, and I am so incredibly proud of Darby and her students.
Best wishes, and may the force be with you. I know this project is going to bring so much to both Mount Holyoke and the world.