A little while ago, I noticed a missed call on my cell phone from my almost-16-year-old niece, D (though not my namesake, harrumph!) who lives in my hometown in Jacksonville with my half-sister, T. I was surprised to hear from D because she never calls and because, well, she’s almost-16 and long gone are the days when she found me fun and interesting. Not that she’s rude about it or anything, but let’s just say that after spending part of one summer with me 5 years ago, she hasn’t wanted to come back. The thrill is gone…But I digress.
I returned D’s call, and it turns out that she had called to wish Peyton a happy birthday. D’s shy and demure phone demeanor belies a razor-sharp wit and smarts. I asked her what was going on with her.
“Um, have you ever heard of the Jacksonville Joe Berg Society?”
“No. What’s that?”
“It’s this thing I’m going to take a test for, at UNF. My science teacher nominated me. All I know is that it’s about the sciences.”
“Congratulations!” She waited while I Googled, and listened as I read the program description to her:
The Joe Berg Society of Jacksonville is a prestigious academic society which offers twelve seminars yearly between September and May in each of the Humanities and Sciences. Membership extends from the middle of the Sophomore year to the middle of the Senior year. Seminars are held at the Museum of Science and History unless the group is on a field trip. Speakers are college professors and professionals from our community who want to share their fields with outstanding high schools students.
In the fall of their Sophomore year, potential Joe Berg participants are nominated by their high school teachers and guidance counselors based upon their GPA and demonstrated interest in enrichment. These nominees sit for a rigorous examination in either the sciences or humanities. The Society admits about 50 students from roughly fifteen public and private Jacksonville high schools into each series each year. The Joe Berg Graduation ceremony is held in the middle of the students’ Senior year. These graduates have participated in twenty-seven to thirty-six hours of college level lecture and discussion.
D said, “Yeah. I’m really interested in the sciences.”
Somewhere, Dr. Mae Jemison and Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson are smiling.
“I’m taking two science classes now, Earth Science and Chemistry. I want to be a mortician.”
“Really? How did you arrive at that decision?”
“I watch a lot of CSI, but I don’t want to be a medical examiner. When I went to Granddaddy’s mom’s funeral, I asked the funeral director a lot of questions. She told me to take lots of science classes. Eventually, I want to be a funeral director.”
A science field *and* one that is recession-proof!?!?!?! She’ll want for nothing.
Can I tell you how proud I am, and absolutely ecstatic?