Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Idle Hands

Total number of service hours completed in November: 0
Total number of hours completed this semester: 50+

Since my service hours are complete, I'll use this months post to reflect on my experience in the Pharm masters program.

The course administrators have been perfectly adequate. I started the semester with some frustration and disappointment. I was hoping to jump into lab work. I read up on some of the projects I wanted to be involved with. I spoke with a professor and we agreed that I would start working after the second exam. However, when I returned at that time, with my shiny new lab coat ready to go,  he informed me that he had unexpectedly taken on two undergrads and no longer had a spot for me. (UNDERGRADS?!?)

Since that rejection, I've been spending the majority of my time working at my restaurant job. I realize there are plenty of other research opportunities and I'll try to got in somewhere for next semester and the following summer.

So far, I have put less effort into the course materials than I would have liked, and I will take some steps to remedy that next semester. I am really hoping to finish strong this fall with a good score on the last exam. My biggest obstacle has been an internal resistance to the concept of lectures. I struggle to see the relevance or importance of listening to a professor talk through material that is covered in so many books and online videos. So far, my only test preparation has been skimming through the corresponding chapters of a pharmacology text book the night before the exams. The results have been okay, but here is plenty of room for improvement especially since the test questions are drawn from lecture materials. We are currently in the gastrointestinal block, which is a good review of some previously covered drugs. There is also no GI section in my text book, so this will be an interesting exam.

As I move forward, I'm going to try to silence my rebellious nature, and instead just trust the process.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

All done.

     The Science Fair is completed. I put in around 50 hours this semester in Dr. Loftus' biology classes. This feels like a good stopping point. It was an experience.
      Every one of my visits was pretty similar. I would walk around field questions, and ask a few  in attempts to keep the students on task. Toward the end of the class period, I would work with a student or two who had fallen behind on assignments.
      The assignments were easy for them. Nitrogen cycles, food webs and even the evolution of antibiotic resistance are concepts they can grasp rapidly. We could bust through those assignments and get the kid caught up pretty quickly.
      I had the advantage of only seeing them once a week, and I never had to hand out detentions or grade reductions. However, I'm convinced that the usual angry lectures and punishments are counterproductive for motivating a child. From my limited, outside perspective, it seems that even at the high school level students benefit from having someone say, "Let's get it done now. Let's try to get an A." That little bit of initiative seemed to be helpful.
      By far, the most significant impression that I will take away from my volunteer experience this semester is from observing the selflessness of the teachers and the mammoth effort that they put into their work each day for such little recognition and reward.