h i r l e y M u r i l l o
Not everyday is interesting and full of great scientific findings. Sometimes I have conflicting wind reports (i.e. one station reported a 90 mph sustained wind speed, while another only a couple of feet away reported a wind speed of only 70 mph.). In this case I have to take it a step further and find out the make of each instrument, when it was last calibrated, or whether or not it is located in a good place to get accurate wind measurements. Some days I spent hours writing or debugging a computer program. I know that eventually I have to get these not so fun parts of my job done in order to get to the good parts!
I really enjoy what I do. Not every hurricane is the same. They have their own characteristics just like people. The more we investigate hurricanes the more we understand them.
Ok..stop, rewind? So how did I get here you ask? Well, I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. Both my parents are from Ecuador. Ecuador is located in South America. The Equator runs right through the middle of the country so it's warm there all the time. My parents have always been (and still are) supportive of what I do. English is their second language so they did their best trying to help my sister and me with school work when we were young. They are hardworking people and always made it known to us that everything they do, they were doing it for us. I went to the local elementary and middle school. I wasn't the brightest kid in the class. I was just about average. I was a bit on the shy side. Some of my elementary teachers said I was too quiet. Ever since I was young I always wanted to be a scientist, whether it was letting a piece of bread get moldy and wondering why, or seeing an ant carry a grain of rice that was twice its size. I had a question for everything. One of the best tools my parents gave me was an encyclopedia set (I think they are now on the web.). I would look up everything. These books contained all the answers I needed.
When I got into middle school things changed. It wasn't "cool" anymore to sit at home and wonder about the great mysteries of the world. I think those people were called "nerds" (and may now be referred to as "geeks".) During my last year in middle school (9th grade back then) my friend heard about this new magnet high school that was looking for students. Magnet schools are schools that focus on a specialized field. This school focuses on marine science and technology. I wasn't too thrilled about going to the local high school. I heard that gangs, drugs and guns were all over the local high school. Whether this was true or not, I didn't want to be there to find out. So both my friend and I applied to this marine-oriented magnet high school. She was more enthusiastic about the whole thing that I was. Turns out I ended up getting accepted and she didn't.
Maritime And Science Technology (MAST) Academy high school was where I really focused on science. Everyone there enjoyed some aspect of science. Going into my senior year in high school, I had an internship at the Hurricane Research Division (where I work now). I liked the work so much that I decided to major in meteorology in college.
I attended The Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL. I took lots of physics and math courses before I even got into the meteorology courses. I wasn't a big fan of math but I got by. I liked physics more than the math, but I soon realized that you can't do one without the other. I knew that if I was ever going to do this whole meteorology career I would have to buckle down and really study in my math classes.
I did notice something about most of my classes: there weren't many girls, especially Hispanic girls. Most of my classes were filled with guys. My meteorology classes were just the same--more guys than girls. Seeing this just made me want to pursue the degree even more. At times I was discouraged by people who thought I wasn't ever going to get a meteorology degree, much less a college degree. I choose to ignore those people and prove to myself that I was going to do this. After four years at FSU, I graduated with a BS in meteorology. I am the first in my family to graduate with a college degree.