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Happy 50th Birthday to Me!

Almost 50 years ago, this happened:

newborn me

My dad and me 50 years ago


My dad was a biologist, and I grew up loving science and wanting to be a biologist too.

me at 9 mos

Me (at 9 months) and my mom

My mom always encouraged me and told me I could be anything I wanted.

With their support, I was lucky enough to have the freedom to pursue my dreams. I was able to chase whatever sparked my brain, to be completely impractical, and to stay in school as long as I liked (which ended up being a very long time).

getting my Ph.D.

With my brother and sister getting my Ph.D.


As I’ve grown over the past 50 years, I’ve become ever more aware of just how lucky I was to be born into this time, this place, and my family. We had plenty to eat, public health, good public schools, and belief in the importance of education.  As a teacher at a community college, I continue to see how important an education is, and how hard many people have to work to get one. As a teacher of global health, I’ve become aware of how it’s even harder in poor nations for young people, especially girls,  to get an education or even to get enough to eat. I’ve also seen the American dream erode during my lifetime, and middle class families like mine get squeezed harder, while the numbers of American poor grow.

Me at about 2

Me at about 2

So, for my birthday, I’d like to make a wish. A wish to help other people have a little bit of what I was so lucky to receive myself.

And for my present, I’m asking for your help (and it will cost you as little as $1!).

Me at about 12 with my sisters and brother

Me at about 12 with my sisters and brother




Me at 20 with my sister

Me at 20 with my sister

I’ve chosen two of my favorite charities, and I’m asking you to make a donation to either one in honor of my birthday. I’ve thought carefully about my choice in charities and I think you’ll find one that you’ll feel good about supporting. Both charities received Charity Navigator’s ( highest rating, which means the money really goes into the effort (not overhead) and their accounting is transparent. Both charities are nonprofits, so your donation is tax-deductable.

brother and sister with food

My sister and brother with bounty from our garden

Food Lifeline provides food to families in Western Washington.  Why I like this charity: So many American families are struggling today, and more than 16 million children are living in poverty. Our system is failing these children and it seems the least, yet most essential, thing we can do is try to make sure they have enough to eat.

You can make a donation for as little as $1 at:



Me (about 30), my sisters, and their daughters

Me (about 30), my sisters, and their daughters

Kiva makes small business loans to people all around the world. Why I like this charity: You can shop through the projects and choose the effort that you want to support. When your money gets paid back, you can roll it over into a new loan or take it back.

Minimum donation is $25 at my birthday campaign page:

Or, you could buy me a gift card at: . Then, I’ll get the card and can shop through the loans and decide who I want to support.Me at about 40


Me today

Me today

Thanks in advance for making my birthday something to feel good about. I’m grateful to have all of you in my life. (And remember, this will be a lot cheaper than a trip to Vegas!)


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