Archive for ‘Opportunity Knocks’

November 7, 2015

Just call me Dr. Jones. Some day. Maybe.

by Janie Jones

So, today was a hallmark date.

I officially began my graduate school application process.  It took the better part of the day.  I had to dig up unofficial transcripts from high school and 4 different colleges I’ve attended over the years.  I had to fill out a ton of forms, write an essay about why I want to get my PhD, another about what qualities I would bring to the graduate school, and I had to send letters to people asking for recommendations.  Before I can complete my application I need to get my GRE scores and I need to get confirmation that the people who I ask for recommendations are willing to give them.  Then, I send $75.  If the graduate school thinks I am worthy, then I have to get all official transcripts from my high school and all the 4 colleges I’ve attended sent in.  After that, if my official transcripts confirm I’m still worthy, by April I should know if I will be allowed to torture myself for another 3-5 years in pursuit of my PhD.

It is sort of daunting.  I have to admit, there have been a lot of days in the past year or so when I have doubted whether I want to commit to more time in school.  I don’t really know what I’m getting myself into.  Most people say it’s tough.  Then again, calculus was tough.  Physics was tough.  I’ve been on the tough circuit this past couple of years.  I haven’t always performed as brilliantly as I’d have hoped, and I am quite tired.  As Forrest Gump would say, “I’m kinda tired.  I think I’ll go home now.”  But I have no home to go to, so I guess I might as well keep on running this race and, in just a few more years I could hold the ultimate academic title.  Knowing I am this close, I don’t think I could be satisfied with not going the full distance if the powers that be in the admissions office will let me in.

And I think they will.  I mean, I just have this feeling.  I hope it’s not bullshit, but I do think I could do well in graduate school.  I don’t know why I feel this way exactly.  I just really think this is what I’m supposed to do.  Sure, I don’t know everything.  I certainly haven’t maintained that A average.  But I have yet to give up, and science is 90% being too stubborn to quit even when you have no clue what you’re doing- yet.  That’s the beauty of being a scientific researcher.  You don’t have to know everything.  If you did, you wouldn’t have a job anymore.  Research in science is all about not letting what you don’t know stop you.  You learn along the way, and the more you learn, the more you realize there’s a ton you don’t know, and so you do more research.

And “we” don’t know a lot of things yet about Lyme disease and the bacteria responsible for it.  I can do a lot toward a doctoral dissertation studying them little bugs.

So, cross your fingers for me.  Pray I don’t have to blog 5 months from now that I’m a washed out, has been, PhD wannabe.

It would be way cooler if some day you could be telling all your friends you read the blog of the famous Dr. Jones who discovered a way to prevent Lyme Disease and cure chronic Lyme Disease back when she was a strung out, neurotic undergrad.

Heh.  Paging Dr. Jones….

January 23, 2015

I’m either about to cash in on all those vouchers for good luck I’ve been anxiously awaiting, or I’ve just gone and bit off more than I can chew

by Janie Jones

It has been a crazy week.

The first week of a new semester can be pretty low key, or it can be quite stressful.  This week fell into the second category.  I have suddenly seen my Google calendar turn a rainbow of colors as chores, projects, appointments, classes, labs, study groups, and work schedules filled up all the slots between 7 am and 5pm.  I even discovered at the last minute that one class was an hour longer than I’d thought it was, which threw off all my meticulously scheduled plans.

Then sitting down with a young friend of mine, Pete, the other day, I happened to lament how my schedule is quickly spiraling out of control.  He politely acknowledged my woe as we applied ourselves to theoretically working on our Physics homework (I was actually working harder at not throwing my arms up in disgust, marching down to the admin office and dropping all my classes and then jumping off the nearest bridge).  Then after an hour and a half of physics pain and misery, we started packing up, I had to go to my next class, and somehow the conversation brings out that the doctor he works for is looking for another undergrad student to help with a new project.

Fast forward 24 hours.

I now have another job.  I will be working for the doctor on a project studying Lyme Disease.  I won’t get paid, but I will get course credit toward my degree, and it will look super awesome on my transcript.  I’m also hoping it will give me some inside contacts in the medical research wing of the college and lead to bigger and better things.  I’m very excited- when I’m not panicking about how I’ll manage to make everything fit into my already crazy schedule.

Pete laughed at me “Ha!  And you had just been saying you were too busy to even think straight!”

I really want to do this, I think I would totally regret passing up the opportunity and it is exactly the kind of research I want to do when I grow up.  I think the Universe as finally thrown me a bone.  But, I just hope I can juggle everything and not loose my tenuous grip on sanity.

I’m trying to hold on to my enthusiasm, but that full calendar is an ugly specter of doom threatening to steal my joy.  I suppose deep down I know I can do it, I have had to suffer through worse times and survived, and at least this is a positive thing and something I really want.  But I’ve been struggling for so long, it makes it hard to believe in the good stuff turning out good.  I’ve become afraid.

So I’m asking a favor.  My dear readers, my bloggy friends, please send me a prayer of support and a few words of comfort.  I know I’m not really alone, but sometimes I feel like it.  A few people I care about reminding me how important this is and how you know I am good enough and strong enough would mean a lot.  It also helps to know someone is proud of me.  Many days lately I don’t feel as confident as I used to be.  School has had a not so bolstering effect on my self esteem, and all the bad things I’ve had to endure lately are really knocking the crap out of me.

But, I’m down to 16 months.  And I really hope that this new job will be the door behind which the pot of gold awaits.

Thanks for your understanding and for reading on.