A Mentoring Match

Olivia McAnirlin ’17 and Charlie Graffius ’22 just missed each other while they were students at Colby-Sawyer. Luckily, their paths eventually led them together, and a unique bond and friendship has formed.

McAnirlin and Graffius met through the NH-INBRE research group mentor/mentee program in early 2022. At the time, Graffius was a student at Colby-Sawyer, and McAnirlin was matched up as his mentor due to their overlapping interest in research and physiology. During her time at Colby-Sawyer, McAnirlin had also worked as a student researcher at NH-INBRE, so she was excited to have the opportunity to mentor Graffius.

McAnirlin majored in exercise science at Colby-Sawyer and was introduced to INBRE by Dr. Jeremy Baker, who taught in the program. “INBRE allowed me the opportunity to better understand the research process and realize that one of my passions is research,” she said. “I pull from my INBRE experiences a lot now, as I teach undergraduate research method courses at Clemson University as a Ph.D. candidate as well. I chose to become a mentor because, in hindsight, INBRE was a huge catalyst for me to grow my passion for research.”

Graffius has enjoyed being McAnirlin’s mentee in the INBRE program. “I was first put in contact with Olivia when I was a member of the INBRE research program last year,” he said. “She has helped me prepare for my future in many different ways. Initially her advice consisted of helping me apply to graduate schools. Soon after, it shifted to giving advice for starting out a podcast and for beginning my career. This has been such a great experience to learn from Olivia, she goes the extra mile to help out in any way that she can.”

With McAnirlin’s gentle guidance and encouragement, Graffius launched a podcast titled The Movement Fluidity Podcast. “I started a podcast to share my story about being born with cerebral palsy (CP) and playing tennis in college,” he said. “The coaches, professors and students at CSC have helped tremendously to make this possible. I use this podcast as a platform to dive into the science of different ways to improve movement function and fluidity. This is targeted to a wide range of viewers, from individuals with CP to athletes looking to improve athleticism.”

Graffius currently works as a personal trainer and produces new podcasts every month. He hopes to someday become a mentor for a INBRE student. “It seems to be very rewarding to help someone through their academic and professional journey,” he said.

McAnirlin is currently at Clemon University as the lab manager of Clemson’s Virtual Reality and Nature Lab and is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the parks, recreation and tourism management program. “I have enjoyed getting the chance to watch Charlie develop his podcast and try out different career paths,” she said. “I truly believe that mentoring is professional development not just for the mentee, but also for the mentor. I learn from Charlie as much as I hope he learns from me.”

Be sure to check out “Physical and Psychological Benefits of Being in Nature,” an episode of Graffius’s podcast that features McAnirlin.