“I doubt any of you are going to be playing with mud for a living, but here I am and I love mud,” said Dr. Matthew Waters, a member of the department of biology at Valdosta State University. It was the first of many encouraging statements during the “How to take Mercer and Mud and Make a Living” lecture in the Medical School Auditorium.
Dr. Waters’ vibrant personality and enthusiastic approach to choosing a career path that truly makes you happy was clear in his words. Having attended Mercer as an undergraduate student, Water discussed his journey into discovering what his passion truly was: mud.
“I love mud,” said Waters. “I like what I do because it’s cool. It is thoroughly enjoyable.”
While studying at Mercer, Waters went from studying mathematics and Christianity to limnology and paleolimnology, a science that measures proxies to infer and reconstruct historic limnological, landscape and climate conditions. Dr. Brian Rood was the one who convinced Waters to switch his major to science.
While discussing his career, Waters offered some interesting facts about what he learned while studying at colleges including Mercer, University of Florida and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
“Humans are addicted to water; they love to live near it and they spend exuberant amounts of money to live by it,” said Waters. “Ninety-seven point five percent of world’s water is salt water. Point three percent is lakes and rivers.”
After coming to Mercer University to study as a Presidential Scholar, Waters quickly realized that he had a passion for discovery and taking an extra step to research the unfamiliar.
“There is an element of discovery. I encourage you: try to have some element of discovery. It keeps you going,” Waters said.
Waters offered advice that he gained at Mercer to the audience on how to succeed in school, your career and also in life.
“Learn one thing extremely well and then you can understand other things by comparison. Learn things, learn something in depth,” Waters said. “Do research and get muddy. It doesn’t have to define you, [but] it will change everything.”
Waters also discussed the importance of living a life of depth and how one should not be afraid of the hard stuff, because the harder something is, the better.
After discussing his time at Mercer, Waters even offered advice to the audience regarding graduate school and career paths. He noted that often times would be tough, but with a little faith and hard work you can do anything.
“The first thing I learned in graduate school is I’m not as smart as I thought I was. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. My master’s thesis went through 17 revisions.”
Waters concluded his presentation with one of his favorite mottos from Finding Nemo. “Just keep swimming,” said Waters.