Sydney Wolgast: Science, Strength, & Sweater Envy

Hi Sydney! I’m so glad you were able to join this Issue with both your pristine fashion sense and your conversational insights! First question: tell me about your decision to pursue a scientific career. Where did your interests begin?

I first got interested in science when I was a kid and was fascinated by watching live surgery on tv. As I got older, I really started to like the forensics side of things and took a forensics class in high school which was amazing. I still didn’t know exactly where I wanted to go career wise so I did a more general route in college and then did an internship as a death investigator for genesee county. From there I became an autopsy technician, which was incredible.

Honestly, I kind of fell into the career I have now in cytogenetics, but I absolutely love it. I am in training for the next couple of years but eventually will be diagnosing cancer and genetic disorders so it is very rewarding. 

You’re amazing, Sydney. I’ll admit I’m still trying to figure out exactly how your program works, but I’ve seen you steadily and determindely progress the past couple of years. Remind me what your job title is?

I’m a medical lab technologist in cytogenetics.

Gotcha. Awesome! And yes, your work is so important; without it, doctors and medical professionals wouldn’t have the information they need to treat folks and alleviate symptoms!

What career experiences have you been able to enjoy? What’ve been the most difficult aspects?

In this particular career, I think I enjoy how much it helps people. Coming from a long line of jobs in the death industry, I understand how much people just want to know what is going on with themselves and their loved ones so I think being a part of that is really enjoyable. I also just love the lab atmosphere. What is most difficult is how sad some of the answers are sometimes and that is a part of life but it can be taxing. 

Yeah, I can only imagine how difficult it is to see cancer and other bodily issues and illnesses. I so admire your resilience and hard work.

Let’s talk about your silk classes! What advice can you offer someone wanting to “make peace” with their body and their way of moving?

I think that when people are trying to make peace with their own bodies, what has really helped me is doing something that makes me feel strong and ive found myself focusing on gaining strength rather than what its doing to the look of my body. I have a lot of insecurities surrounding my body, but since starting silks, I have seen myself become stronger and be able to do things that when I first started I couldn’t even attempt. This has given me confidence that my reflection never will. The advice I would offer is to always give yourself grace, do the things your body likes, and do what makes you feel strong and confident even if it’s a little unconventional.

That’s so incredible; I think you’re wicked strong. Thank you for your advice; struggling with body image is something I’m moving through again now that my body is failing me in new ways.

Alright, next topic: I love living in Michigan! What about you? Do you mostly enjoy living here or do you ever struggle with this place?

So let’s talk Michigan! I actually love michigan because I love the season changes. I think my least favorite thing is the fact that the heat isn’t dry. I do much better with dry heat because I naturally crave colder climates so the humidity really kills me. Aside from that, I think Grand Rapids has so much community and I have truly found my home here. My weather qualms could never outweigh the love I have for where I live and who I’ve met because of it. 

Hell yeah. I’m glad you’re here! Okay, last question. I love ending interviews by asking folks What inspires you? Where do you find joy?

I truly draw the most inspiration from my friends. I have lots of podcasts that I listen to and books I read but to be honest I’m in awe of my friends every day and each one has a different quality that I admire and strive to be better at myself. I find that I get the most fire from the people in my life because not only are they amazing they are honest and straightforward so we can always have tough conversations and all come out better.

I think I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who have encouraged me over the years to really figure out who I am and what I love and find happiness in.

And I’ll always be inspired by those people who have helped me become me!

Thank you so much for being an inspiration yourself! I’m always drawn to your energy and the beautiful moments you create and appreciate.

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