Category: school

This, too, shall pass

blossoms framing Alice in Wonderland sculptureThe title is a reminder to myself. It’s family mantra, much like the Stark’s “Winter is Coming” (and at times equally as tragic). It’s an affirmation that nothing is permanent, as well as an encouragement to endure the rough patches and embrace the moments of joy, because both are fleeting and will be gone in another breath.

Tonight was night 2 of First Day of School for my new Ph.D. program (sidenote – I’m beginning a Ph.D. program in Education with an emphasis in Curricular and Cultural Studies. This will probably come up again over the next 4-ish years, just a guess). And the class for this night is basically “Welcome to this Ph.D. program in Education! Here’s everything you’ll be expected to know!” This is a great class to have; tonight I am overwhelmed, though, because I feel terribly behind in my base knowledge for my new discipline.

A large reason for this feeling grows from switching fields. I have a M.A. in English, which means I know how to read very well, and I can write well in the MLA format. Education is an entirely different beast. My reading skills transfer over, but the discipline uses APA, which is in many ways opposite to MLA, so I will have to re-learn how to write somewhat. And my experience with The Canon will only be mildly helpful.

I was sitting in class tonight, listening to the professors go over the expectations and the assignments for this class and realized how large the gaps in my knowledge are for this field. And I started to panic a bit.

So I’m doing what I always do when I know that I am spiraling into a dark pit even Hamlet would avoid, I’m writing. And I’m writing here, because if I’m getting a Ph.D., I have to get more comfortable with the idea of people reading me.

I have similar concerns and doubts with every degree. The rational part of me knows that I will succeed, and that Future Chandra will look back on Current Chandra and laugh at how stressed out I am in this moment. But I’m still Current Chandra, which means I have a tremendous amount of reading to catch up on so that I can stand in a place where I can be Future Chandra laughing at this moment some day. Because this, too, shall pass.

Collecting books for readers in the reserve stacks, 1964I’ve cataloged some of my adventures here already, with the promise of updates to come. But I have a new one starting this fall.

I’ll be embarking on a PhD program!

The thing about this is that I’m moving from English to Education. English is still my first love; it’s just Education is proving to be more open to my crazy ideas. And I think that policy discussions surrounding Education provide more opportunities to make significant changes. Plus, it’s a PhD program, so I’ll still get to read a lot (They warned us it could be up to 200 pages per class per week assigned. I almost laughed out loud).

So soon I will be back in school and I can’t wait to wander around with stacks of books again! And getting buried in research! And writing papers! I’m super excited.

Here’s to the next adventure!


GRE – the last standarized test

freeway sunsetSo this morning before work, I stopped into my local GRE testing center to take what I will now always refer to as “The Last Standardized Test”. It isn’t for everyone (suckers who want to get into medical school or go on to become lawyers), but it is for me!

I’m very excited about this. Realistically, there is a small chance I will have to retake the exam, because ETS (the company that makes it) just revised the exam. As in they switched over last month. But my scores using the old system fell into the necessary range for the grad schools I’m applying to, so as long as my scores transfer well, I’m done!

Which is great because I hate standardized tests. I always have. In first grade, my mom had to come in and talk me down from the fit I threw so that I could take the test. Part of my difficulty stems from viewing the exams as essentially a waste of time I could be reading. But I have also always had a problem knowing what to answer because the questions are frequently worded vaguely.

I know making us reason through the question is the point, but this becomes quite problematic with the regional differences of the exam creators and Southern California. Autumn is not the time that leaves change color and fall from trees; it’s the time of year the open spaces (and more often houses) burn. And no one ever includes how very itchy, static electricity accompanies the fall winds. And of course you can wade across a river and creeks are dry more often than not.

I’ve been quite resistant, but I sat through the dumb exam. I had everything against me too. I didn’t get enough sleep; I hadn’t studied enough; I was stressed because I couldn’t print out an admission ticket; I got stuck in traffic; I didn’t eat breakfast; I didn’t have any caffeine. But apparently, that’s what I needed in order to just complete the task.

But now all of that is behind me. Now I just have to finish my applications. Minor hurdles…

Domestic science laboratory in Hartford Public High School, Hartford, CT. No date given, but ...

You probably don’t know who Ervin Meneses is. He’s a high school student that comes to my work constantly. He’s dedicated and working hard to make it to college.

He has spent this summer working at University of California, Irvine, for Dr. Reginald Penner, one of the chemistry professors. And UCI interviewed him and wrote a good, though occasionally slightly sensationalist, piece on him. It’s a featured article on their website! From the article:

Each weekday, after donning purple gloves, a white lab coat and goggles, Ervin starts to work. His mission: to grow gold-coated filaments 1,000th the width of a human hair. Creating nanowires is a tough, tedious task that stumps even veteran researchers, says his mentor, Jung Yun Kim, a third-year graduate student. But Ervin never gives up.

“He’s really something else,” says Kim. “I feel more motivated to work every day he’s here. He is so full of life.”

This kid is brilliant, and I’m so happy that he took the opportunity to work at UCI. And it was really fun to read about him here. I hope you get to have moments like this. It makes the day brighter.

*the photo is from Cornell University’s Flickr stream.

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