Sunday, December 14, 2014

From comment to post: December 2014

There's a saying that goes something like when you don't get the thing you hoped for, it means God is preparing you for something even bigger...I think that applies here, cause I can definitely see much bigger doors opening for you in the near future!

Amen and amen again!!! :)

Next week I meet with my new PI to discuss the project I'll work on until I matriculate as a graduate student in the Computer Science department. Now I've talked MANY times this semester about research gigs I'd been offered that never came through. But I'm not worried in the least about this one because while I don't know this PI well at all, I'm not worried one bit about her "going left" with her decision to bring me on board. I know without equivocation that she "has my back" for reasons I'll discuss in more detail in the future.

The biggest irony of all is that this gig/school is located in the town we recently decided to relocate to before ANY of this other stuff came into play. In other words, if I had been offered a gig in the city we just moved from, my commute would have been over 2 hours one way. But I would have sucked it up and did it if I needed to like I always do. But now I don't need to. Now how cool is that? More importantly, I know for sure that the reason God didn't allow any of the other gigs to come through is because if would have been hell commuting back and forth everyday. So I should have just maintained the faith "that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Roman 8:28)". And this is all topped off my med school options that have students in their 40's in our new hometown!!!

Now as Christmas is approaching, we'll be busy making our new place a home, with everyone in our family looking forward to the future!! But no one more than me!! Moving forward, I must remember to "count it all's going to get better"!!!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Back and Forth

Here we go again...................................

So not even a week after I extolled the virtues of my new research gig, than I learn from HR that the position was filled and NOT by me. Well DAMN!!!!  Actually DOUBLE DAMN, and I'm sure my regular readers have joined me in a collective "HUH????". And unfortunately, the PI didn't have the professional decency to tell me he decided to go with another candidate. TRIPLE DAMN!!!!! But as I've learned MANY times in the last 4 months, until you see a contract, the job is like a fart, it disappears in the wind within seconds, LOL!!!

But.......................... in the spirit of contacting PI's EVERY week until a gig comes through, I attended a recruitment event last week at a computer science (CS) department with my daughter who is seriously considering following in the foot steps of her Computer Engineer father. But when I heard the words, genomics and bioinformatics, my attention was immediately changed for what would be great for her to what would be great for us. However this isn't the first time I've floated the idea of CS in my mind, I just summarily rejected it with a strong HELLZ NAW!!! (Of course, Dr. E's #1 and #2 on that list contradict themselves, sigh) But in the absence of a gig (again) and a woman PI in CS that is interested in me (and my goals) and whom I'm meeting with next Friday, I'll need to retool my thinking because: 1) EVERYONE I know doing what I'm interested in has a degree in CS including Dr. E, the Internist at the county hospital and my mentor from the FDA with the PhD in Bioinformatics, 2) A HUGE part of my inability to get "respect" from folks in Bioinformatics is my weak background in CS, and 3) As one of my new CS colleagues put it, the difference between Bioinformaticians and CS people who do Bioinformatics is that one makes great money and the other is poor.

So while this is far from me "playing to my strengths", I can't "play" to $hit without a gig in my "strengths". Meanwhile, the clock for me getting a head start on my MD/PhD plans gets delayed while I'm ardently searching for a research group I can "stick" too. Right now, it's ALL about where I can get support for what is already not a realistic goal to many people for me. But then, becoming a Scientist wasn't supposed to be "for me" either according to the many naysayers I'm come across in my academic endeavours. So now it comes down to support and how I can tailor my interests into an area I'm going to be supported in because in the end, support trumps EVERYTHING!!!!

Enough about that, "It's Friday and I'm ready to swing".........

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Never too much?

"Baby, you're all over the place".

When someone you're emotionally attached to, starts a conversation off with that sentiment, you KNOW you're in trouble, LOL!!! So it turns out that my plan to train to become a pharmacy tech has scared the "heebie jeebies" out someone VERY close to me. And I can't say that I don't understand why. I guess..........

The thing is that having ADD as an adult means being all over the place (especially when you forget to take your supplements as often as I do) although I can easily concede that it's just not a cool look. Not at this age. I've just had to have plan A-Z my entire life such that it never once occurred to me that to others, I look like "I'm all over the place". But I don't think that's the real point here, I think the MUCH bigger point here is that a Physician/Scientist program is going to require the utmost in focus for at least 6 years (yeah, I'm planning on finishing my PhD in 2.5 years and med school in 3.5 with some academic reciprocity between both programs). So it's probably in my best interest to do my best to get focused NOW!!!

I also realized that I'm going to have too much on my plate beginning in January because I need to hit the ground running on my next research gig. So I decided that in addition to preparing final assignments due in a few weeks, I'd also better start reviewing every thing I've learned in bioinformatics over the past 2 years. And since there's no way in hell I can do all that, study for my Pharm cert in the next 6 weeks, and travel a LOT between now and January 2015,  I've decided put my Pharm tech stuff on hold indefinitely........

Speaking of research gigs, it's an ironic observation that my entire support system at my school is now entirely of Indian descent. My new PIs (2 MD/PhDs) are both Indian men and my new department advisor is a female Indian Scientist whom I've known for over a year. Add to that the fact that most of my business clients are Indian along with the fact that I heavily studied Hinduism in college (as an Eastern Philosophy major) and maybe that's not so ironic afterall. What I do know is that I'm taking support any damn way I can get it and I'm so very thankful for it! :)

You know some people say that you can never have too much of a good thing, in my case the opportunity to learn something new (or some of my awesome Thanksgiving dinner cooking, LOL!!). But what I realized is that for me, that's just not the case either with Thanskgiving dinner and especially not with my academic goals which must stay laser focused if I'm to be successful.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Brand new gig

So it turns out that the gig I mentioned in this post where there were 3 positions and 4 job candidates, has unofficially come through for me with a start date of January 5, 2015. And as a reminder, this is the gig where I'll be involved in data analysis, bioinformatics, and seeing patients too which also comes with the opportunity for dissertation work in the long term. Now once again, I've been verbally offered a job but have yet to receive anything in writing. However in this case, the position wasn't created at the time I interviewed for it so I'm not surprised I haven't seen an official contract yet. But I'm still cautiously optimistic given my recent history with gigs these days.

Movin' on, I haven't done ANY MCAT study in weeks and I don't really have a reason why except that I'm mentally drained with my lack of research gig situation and have decided to work on a definitive study plan starting in January. I am still enjoying my bioinformatics courses to the point where I'm looking at other options for getting more training in a department where I feel supported. So I'm visiting a Genetics department a week from Monday in an effort find a supportive environment where I can further my training in Bioinformatics. My HowardU mentor is constantly reminding me that it's not necessarily the degree that counts, but the training you receive earning the degree. And since I have a background in Cancer and Genetic Epidemiology from my time as a predoctoral fellow at the NCI, I'm looking at ALL my options. Interestingly, one of my classes which has focused intensely in GWAS or Genome Wide Association Studies works extremely well with the idea of me studying Genetics at the graduate level for reasons which should be obvious by the name GWAS. However, I have had to dust off my knowledge base in genetics all semester because it's been years since I used it. So instead of being frustrated by it, I've reminded myself that cancer is a genetic abnormality, bringing everything I'm learning now full circle with what my research interests are and what I've learned in the past.

Other updates are that I'm still working on my Pharm tech certification study (gotta have the plan B gig IN PLACE!!) and it's kinda interesting to be looking at drugs from a different perspective given my previous disasterous learning experiences working in big Pharma, great experiences working with the feds in drug approval process, and having earned an MS in Pharmacology which was more about how drugs work than their identity/what they're prescribed for. I actually feel like these experiences are coming/have come together for a reason which just isn't clear to me right now for whatever reason. All I do know is that come hell or high water, I will be in school full-time (MD or DO/PhD) by 2016.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

When the teacher becomes a student......again! :)

                             *My dry erase board is my friend, LOL!!!

It occurred to me that my readers may be wondering what I'm doing these days to "earn my own keep". Turns out that tutoring nursing, pharmacy, premeds, prepharms, and prenursing students keeps me pretty busy. And I actually find it humorously ironic that I'm applying for jobs in the $15-$20/hour range when I make 4X that at a minimum for tutoring folks, LOL!!

I also have an interview for a position in the ER/Trauma department at a local hospital in the job equivalent of a medical assistant with some research study work too. Turns out that the Doc I shadowed in the ER remembered me and wants to follow up about a gig, a gig that is normally filled by medical students. So YES if I'm offered this opportunity I'm going to take it, it's full-time, 12 hours shifts, 3 days/week. The other 2 days, I hope to work as a Pharm Tech. And I won't be taking classes this Spring to prepare for the MCAT, so I'll have time. Now I know that probably sounds like a lot going on, but I'm the kind of person that doesn't function well with too much time on my hands, hence the dual gigs. Of course, that won't leave much time for tutoring and that's okay, because as much as I get out of helping others, it simply doesn't fulfil my need for being highly stimulated academically.

I do enjoy learning though and I suppose that must be the case given my long term goals. :)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The "In the meantime" gig.....

                                   * No, I'm NOT looking for love, LOL!!

So after finally getting caught up in one of my Informatics core classes (yeah me!!) :)), I'm back to spending a lot of time looking into gig prospects. And unfortunately, I still haven't been able to secure a suitable research position despite an exhaustive effort!! But like clockwork, I'll continue to send a letter of research interest to a PI every week and apply for whatever research gigs become available. Because THAT is what it means to be as tenacious as 50 bull dogs.:)  I should emphasize local gig because I did get an offer to go back East, but turned it down. I also interviewed for a fellowship with another federal agency and I will probably seriously consider that one if I get an offer. It's just so difficult to consider moving (again) for the second time in a calendar year, with a family without some serious pre-planning. So I've decided I need to explore other local gig options including this one which probably appears to come straight outta' no where, Pharmacy Technician.

Now I'm certain folks are probably VERY perplexed about this but it actually relates a lot to my background, and ironically to my recent research experiences. One of the projects I worked on this past summer involved drug-drug interactions, so I'm quite familiar with ALL the major drug databases. I also have Gov't job experience in chemical drug evaluation as well as an MS in Pharmacology. Most relevant to my next possible gig is the fact that back in the day, I worked as a Pharm Tech during a time when I thought I would apply to Pharmacy school.

One thing IS very clear about me right now is that I'm soooooooooooooo desperate to work with "people people" and with patients, that I'll do damn near ANYTHING!! So when it comes down to clinical gigs I can get into/trained in quickly only 2 come to my mind, CNA(certified nursing assistant) or Pharmacy Tech. And given what my sister (who's a Pharmacist), says about working as a Pharmacy Tech these days, I MUST be pretty damn desperate to get that "clinical" interaction by working in a retail pharmacy, ROTFL!!!! I would prefer a hospital pharmacy gig, but sometimes you gotta' do what you gotta' do, and take whatever you can get! :)

So for now, in addition to finishing up my classes, I'm learning the top 200 drugs in use, blowing the dust off my basic math skills for pharm calculations, while also preparing mentally for volunteering at a hospice agency. And I'm hoping to start all this by January 2015 if nothing else comes through. In other words, even with this highly curvaceous path to the 'Dr' title, life is still VERY interesting and VERY good! I just gotta hang in there and keep being patient!!!

Monday, November 3, 2014

If I had to choose a medical specialty today, I'd choose..............


Today, it seems a very good way for me to do the following:

1) Have a career seeing patients while also conducting research too.

2) Use my pathology background so that it won't go to "waste".

3) Use bioinformatics skills to address cancer health disparities.

The ultimate trifecta!!! :)

Interestingly, my hospice training is on the 19th of this month and I also joined American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) last August. Add to that, my first Master's thesis project was in sickle cell disease and the other one was a breast cancer project. Interesting, but probably not ironic.

Of course, that's a long time form now, but it's fun to dream today!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Fake it til' you can make it!

                            * all images in this post are from Google images

The story of my life these days, LOL!!!

A few years ago, I created a playlist titled "Fake 'til you make it" and I've played it least once a week for the past 2 years. On one level I look back at my path thus far toward a career as a Physician/Scientist and I say, "D@mn, I don't know how or WHY I'm still here" pursing this impossible dream despite obstacles that at times appeared insurmountable. Then I'm reminded of who I'm made of.

I'm a descendant of many people, some of whom spent months here:

Actually in the dungeons of this building, where my ancestors were chained to each other and forced to live in a room with a floor made of feces, urine, menstrual fluids, and dead bodies:

Minus the light shown in this photo, of course. And the lucky few of my ancestors that survived the 3-6 months in this living hell, ended up here for a months long trip to America:

And the ones who survived this trip lying in feces, urine, menstrual fluids, and dead bodies became my African ancestors in America. Yeah.

On my worst troubleshooting computer days of which there have been MANY lately, I think about this man Henry O Flipper, who was "silenced" for the 4 years while he was a student at West Point Military Academy becoming the first Black cadet in the school's history:

For those who don't know the definition of "silenced", it's when your classmates refuse to talk to you. FOR FOUR YEARS in this case. Actually, this reminds me of being a Black woman in Bioinformatics/Computational Biology, but I recently made a very interesting observation. My relationship with my colleagues/classmates in their 20s and 30s is phenomenal, with a capital "P". It's the middle age folks who have given me and regularly give me the the most hell and not ironically, these are the people who grew up with a VERY different viewpoint of people, which I don't think is a coincidence.

My last inspiration to stay focused and stay the course, comes from these men:

These are the infamous Tuskegee Airmen an all Black fighter pilot squadron during world war II. After fighting for their country these college degreed men, were not only prevented from assuming jobs as Airline Pilots in the US, many had a difficult time securing work in the field of their degree due to racism. And it's a reality that I feel every day when I think about the difficulty I've had securing a position utilizing Bioinformatics skills as compared to similarly educated/trained people. But just like these men made the decision to gut it out until an opportunity presented itself, I must do the same if for no other reason than the fact that my genetic profile is made of people who not only survived under the most hellish circumstances known to man, but thrived as well!!! 'Cause I got BIG things poppin' in my future and imma "Ball on these suckas, shawty losins not an option"!!! :)

Friday, October 31, 2014

7 thoughts/reflections since I moved to Texas

In reflecting over my life in the year since I moved to hot arse Texas, I'm thankful for and appreciative of, the many ways I've grown as a person, Scientist, and future Scientist/Physician. Here's a list of the most notable of a list too deep to count:

1) I have a "backbone" made of PURE titanium, the strongest substance known to man, strength to weight ratio wise!!! ;)

2) I have "doubled down" on my research goals combining cancer health disparities and bioinformatics. And that's a good thing, because no one really seems to give a damn that the mortality rate from cancer for minorities is at epidemic levels.

3) #2 means that I may have to do my dissertation work at a federal agency. That's cool, because that's the environment I'm targeting for a long term career anyway, if I don't "locums" until retirement.

4) I will be leaving my current department at the end of the year and the reasons are in my past 3-4 posts. Turns out that a 4.0 in Bioinformatics looks fabulous to MANY other schools/departments.

5) With the idea that I may be further delaying my matriculation in med school, I'm still seriously starting a PhD program in Bioinformatics next Fall, where my dissertation AND med school goals will be supported. To hell with "picking one", if I were 20 years younger and any other race than Black, I seriously doubt I'd meet with such bull crap, academically unsubstantiated resistance.

6) Thanks in large part to age discrimination in the med school admissions process, DO programs are now front and center on my med school radar. My Paediatrician growing up was a DO and I've ALWAYS received MUCH premed love from DO schools. At almost 50, I'm tired of "paving roads with my a$$", I'm choosing to go down a path someone else's a$$ paved. Plus, I'm paving enough roads by being a Black woman in Bioinformatics/Computational Biology.

7) I realize more than EVER the importance of family, friends, and mentors having my back!

Lastly, doubt, discouragement, and negativity can have SEVERAL seats and STAND BACK!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Dem dere's da' facts!!!

As I regularly contemplate where my academic and professional goals and dreams can be best supported, I'm reminded of a few of the facts from the image from this post. Most notably the fact that as a Black woman, I have a significantly better shot at achieving both my MD/PhD goals at an HBCU than ANYWHERE else. Hmmm.

One of my current mentors is a brilliant young Black woman with a PhD in Genetics whom I met a few years back while I was working for free at G'town (while waiting on funding "roll eyes"). She was a Howard University graduate and was in her last year of her first post doc (damn shame I gotta specify which Post Doc). She's also been helping me with my research proposals and when we spoke a few days ago, she suggested I at the very least consider applying to PhD programs at HBCUs as well. My first thought was of the encounter I had with a med school rep from an HBCU (which shall remain nameless, LOL) back in 1999 who suggested that at 35, I was too old to pursue med school and certainly too old for an MD/PhD program. So after that one disconcerting experience, I rather ignorantly wrote off HBCUs for my education......................until a few days ago when I talked to my mentor with the Howard PhD.

When I think about the few Black PhDs I know are still in academia, almost ALL of them are at HBCUs. Of course, there's the stigma that HBCUs can't pull RO1 type funding because the "quality research" just isn't there. Well, after having spent 30 years back and forth in academia at majority institutions, I can say that HBCUs have hardly cornered the market on BS in academia. My own experience with having my ideas shot down yet become someone else’s dissertation project, numerous project contributions that barely resulted in a mention in a paper instead of co authorship like the other folks in my group, not to mention the people too many to count that get their names on papers "just 'cause", I can say without equivocation that what's going on at non HBCU's ain't all that pretty either, hence the almost nonexistence of Black Americans on faculty at these schools.

I always say that if I had gone to an HBCU for undergrad I would very likely be a Physician/Scientist by now, but I hate to dwell on that idea too much because I think it's an affront to the many experiences God blessed me with that became my life's story. But the fact is that the stats on where Black folks get PhDs and MD's don't lie, so it's certainly something I need to seriously consider at this point in my life and career.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but useful information just the same!

                              *All I want to hear are pro MD/PhD convos!!

So I met with Dr. E yesterday, and a few key points came out of our meeting:

1) He thinks a PhD in Computer Science is the way I should go if I'm really serious about natural language processing a sub-field of clinical decision support/Health Informatics. Note to self, I ain't that damn interested!!!

2) I should "play to my strengths" in other words, develop a project using my extensive background in Cancer Biology and............... wait for it................Pathology.:)

3) Starting the PhD program officially isn't the best idea because I could get "stuck" there, meaning I may not get accepted MD/PhD and will have to finish the PhD or risk upsetting a whole lotta people.

4) When an PI hears "medical school" they're immediately turned off.

I'm gonna' be honest, if I "got stuck" in a PhD program more than 5 years after I started, I wouldn't just be upset, I'd be MAD AS HELL!!! And I've seen too many people to count, "get stuck" in a 7-10 year PhD program so I decided a LONG time ago that that just ain't gonna be me! EVER!!!! My other problem with the basic science PhD is that the job market SUCKS thanks to the large immigration of Scientists/Physicians from other countries. Add the numerous post docs basic science PhD's do, and I could see ending up a VERY bitter ol' PhD. More than that, my heart just ain't in the basic science PhD only otherwise, I would have finished one a LONG time ago. That said, I also realize that not having one is one reason I'm having a difficult time with the job market. The additional expectation I've observed that people with PhDs work for free initially (which foreign PhDs/MDs do too willingly for me) and now you have a recipe for a HUGE career regret IMHO. As for my med schools goals, I'm simply not going to lie about it to anyone, so if a PI can't "handle" knowing what my goals are and that it won't cost them squat other than their time, then that's clearly NOT the PI for me.

So where does that leave me now? I'm in the process of thinking through options including applying for NIH diversity grants which won't "bind me" to an investigator for more than 1 year at a time or to a PhD program, and will also allow me to continue to develop my bioinformatics skills. But I'm also now more than ever, considering leaving my current department due to the knowledge that according to Dr. E, it's becoming more computational (and indirectly more Asian), so I think finding long term support where I am now is going to be like finding a needle in a haystack. In my department, you're "golden" if you're either already a clinician (Doc, Nurse, ect) or a Computer Scientist, but a Scientist not so much. Of course, I've had doubts about staying where I am for months now which should have been a sign, especially given that that's what the MD/PhD program coordinator indirectly hinted at during our meeting months ago.

I think the bottom line for me is that I need to "get over" whatever it is keeping some place where I'm not supported ie put aside the fear of change, and haul a$$ to a place where I'm not only supported as a person, but I'm encouraged in my goals too!

Friday, October 24, 2014

If no one will give you an opportunity............................

..................create your own! For the past week I've been busting my butt trying to get fellowships and grant apps completed for the early November deadlines that I didn't find out about until last Wednesday. So while eating at a local med school and feeling more and more exasperated about my inability to find a research group, I saw a positing for fellowships in Translational Medicine so I called even though I'm not officially in a PhD program yet.

The woman I spoke with happens to do recruiting for one of the graduate programs at my school and she suggested I apply for a couple fellowships and grants that I had NO IDEA about before. So I got in touch with Dr. E and my "grandpa" advisor about my personal statement and research proposal. Now, I meet with Dr. E later today, but I met with my grandpa advisor on Tuesday and man, when I left his office, I felt like I had gained another anal orifice, ROTFL!!! He started with the "get your arse to med school ASAP" speech again and ended with why I haven't found a research gig yet. But there were NO tears after I left this meeting this time, just a titanium coated resilience to take his advice to heart and do what I KNOW I need to do.

Other things going on in my life is that in between reading a TON of papers and developing a research project, I've been trying to make progress in one of my Bioinformatics courses. And I'm stuck trying to use a software program (PLINK for Genome-wide Association Studies or GWAS) in an operating system (Ubuntu/Linux) not commonly used for GWAS. Put another way, there's not nearly as many troubleshooting tips on the net for Ubuntu as there are for Windows or Mac users. But before I toss my laptop out of the window, I'm learning to take a few deep breaths and say "woo-sah":

And it ain't hardly working, LOL!! But I'm doing my best to make it work because my blood pressure is starting to creep up every now and then on a regular basis. NO CAN DO!!!

At any rate, I continue to be in what I like to call a "caterpillar" season because I feel myself growing and changing in a LOT of great ways. I previously blogged about my concern about having to participate on a project that is someone else's passion, but not finding a suitable gig not only forced me to find another way to get my goals achieved (if they won't give you a gig, get your own damn funding for a gig) but also to conduct research that will benefit people who look like me, which doesn't happen nearly as much as it's needed! What this means for me personally is that my proposed project will encompass cancer health disparities and informatics, exactly as I originally hoped!!! :)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Blowing the dust off my biological agents knowledge.......

So last Spring when I jokingly asked the ADA and HR reps  "Where's the Ebola" after they suggested I work in an containment suit instead of moving the venting chemical tank from the lab I used to work in, it never, EVER occurred to me that I was inadvertently making a prediction about what was to come.

As a former NIAID (National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases) Scientist and with formal training in Biological and Chemical Agents, there are many things I could say about the Ebola issue here in hot arse Texas. I had a thread on the oldpremeds website about it, expressing concerns about treating people infected with Ebola here in the US and it looks like my concerns are coming to fruition for ONE reason: People are sloppy with their infection control practices. Actually, people are often negligent since a huge dose of common sense and proper training could ameliorate many issues with containing a virus like Ebola. For example, watching a popular TV physician demonstrate taking off a containment suit was painful, as I observed him do it wrong on ALL fronts from the way I was trained. For example, I was trained to take off the first layer/contaminated gloves first, then remove other clothing/equipment with the second layer of gloves. Of course, if a country with the financial resources to research Ebola had given a damn about it while the disease was only spreading in some parts of Africa many years ago, this issues may not exist here today. I mean, did the US really think this wouldn't become a problem here one day?

Movin' on, I've got tons going on now in the middle of the semester and with MCAT prep too. I'm also still interviewing with PI s looking for that combo between career and financial support and I'm still finding it a difficult concept that my gender, race, AND my citizenship make me a "minority" in Bio and Translational Informatics. I'm also settling my mind on the fact that I've got some tough computer classes in my near future especially since I'll be taking them at one of the  highest ranked schools in the country. But hey, if you want the best training you have to be willing to take the opportunity to train among the best. Or so my MD/computer trained advisor keeps telling me. ;)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Making a way out of no way.

                                   Texas humidity = bad poofy hair days, LOL!!!

So last week I volunteered at an Informatics meeting and overall it was a great experience. The second day was a little rough because the team lead that day was a micromanager, but overall I had a pretty good time. And like I predicted in my last post, everyone from my last group over the summer was there and seemed surprised (as hell) to see me there, LOL!! Of course, it was nearly impossible not to see me since I worked the registration table and was the ONLY Black person at the entire meeting. And given the strong computer science nature of this sub field of informatics, I was not surprised to observe that the majority of the attendees were Asian. It is what it is.

The highlight of the meeting for me was meeting (urgh redundancy) someone from an East coast government employer that is not only considering me for a research fellowship with her agency (since I'm having such a difficult time finding one where I am now) but FAR more importantly, offering to be a mentor too. In fact, she was one of the first PhD students (and even fewer women) to complete a dissertation in what was then the emerging field of Translational Informatics, which is my intended area of focus. Honestly before I met this Scientist (an Asian woman), I had MANY days where I felt like I'd have a better chance of being hijacked by a blind terrorist with a peg leg than developing skills in translational informatics in a research setting. And as has been common among the many URM students/scientists I've known throughout my career, we are often relegated to projects which have very little substance (ie lead to publications) for reasons which can't be explained by qualifications, work ethic, and academic acumen alone. But you know, I don't have an ounce of time to focus on that bullshizzle anymore, I'll continue to do what I need to do until the goal is achieved, obstacles be damned!!!

Movin' on, my orientation to volunteer at the cancer hospital is delayed due to a scheduling error and I'm a little disappointed by that because I've got some "free time" I need to use ASAP. But it's only delayed by a few weeks, so it's cool.

I ended my VERY busy week visiting my friend who has been discharged to a rehab hospital learning to do basic things like swallow and walk again. And instead of focusing on the long road ahead for him mentally and physically, I'm choosing instead to focus on how this experience keeps me motivated to pursue my long term, MD/PhD goals.

Now I'm not one to celebrate the foul language contained in many rap/hip hop songs. But the the song featured on this post is my "ode" to any and all the "b*tches" things/people that would serve to keep me off track, discouraged, and feeling isolated. MOVE!!!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Still Standing!

So last week was a bit of a whirlwind as I was back and forth to the hospital checking in on my friend and his family, and also interviewing for research gigs too. My friend came out of his coma and is doing well despite some scary moments last week. He has little feeling on his right side, an outcome that may unfortunately be permanent. But we won't know for sure until he completes his stint at a local rehab facility, where he's being transferred to next week.

Gigwise things are okay and I honestly hesitate to say "great" (even though that's how I'm feeling) since I've been disappointed gigwise for a few months now. The PI I met with claimed to have 3 open slots and was only interviewing 4 people so I know that statistically speaking, my chances of landing one of those gigs is great. The issue is that there's 1 gig of the 3, I want FAR more than the others because I'd like to use most if not all of these hard earned skills in bioinformatics I've developed over the past few years. OTOH, whatever I don't get research wise with this next gig, I WILL get with my academic program, it just makes a LOT more sense when your research and coursework line up for LOTS of reasons. The other really great thing about this gig is that this area of cancer is seeing a resurgence in funding and I was told that there would be dissertation opportunities in the future because of that. Of course I heard this about dissertation opportunities before with my last gig over the summer, so I'm sure my readers will excuse me if I seem less than enthusiastic about what this PI has told me. I guess I just underestimated how challenging it would be to find a supportive group to join at one of the top academic centers in the US where opportunities are supposed to be plentiful.

Movin' on, my MCAT verbal review is going well and I'm obviously very happy about that. Between the MCAT tutoring I've done over the past 2 years and my own "attitude" adjustment about the exam, I can honestly say that I'm looking forward to taking in again in April.

I'm also scheduled to begin volunteer training at a local hospital in a few weeks and that's especially exciting! I'm just soooooo excited about this place in my life, I can hardly contain myself!

Lastly, I'll be out of town next week, volunteering at an Informatics focused meeting and that's just, WOW, the most exciting thing happening next week!!! As I understand it, my old group from the summer will be there and one of the PIs will be presenting. So I can't WAIT for them to seem ME again, LOL!!! The thought of that reminds me of some things my mentor said to me recently and I'll quote her email below:

"............Don't give up because of a few bad apples. There are some wonderful research groups out there..... Anyone in research has gone through the exact same thing. It happens time and time again........ You can't let that discourage you from achieving your dreams.........Chop it up to that and keep it moving!" 

No matter what field a person pursues for a career, you WILL need supportive and encouraging folks around you at ALL times, so do whatever you have to to create that "village" of folks around you.

Speaking of that, I had a rather odd conversation with my Mother yesterday after she viewed my linkedin profile (unbeknownst to me at the time). And if you've been reading my blog for a while you know my Mom is NOT supportive of the path I'm on and frequently says things to discourage go to nursing school. Anyhoo she sounded impressed with what she saw, saying things like I had no idea about what you've been doing for the last few years, and about how difficult what I do sounded to her. And I'm thinking (after I unstuck my eyes from the back of my head because I rolled them so hard, LOL) it would have been nice to have had some support for this, because being a Black woman in a filed dominated by foreign Asian men has REALLY been "something". I can't say that she's now supportive of what I'm ultimately trying to do, just that it doesn't matter to me one way or another. My "village" of support and encouragement is a tight as drum!!! :)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tomorrow is promised to NO one.

Last Saturday I made plans to meet with a friend I've had since I was in middle school, part of my NC "family" of friends I've had for most of my life. And when he stood me up I didn't think too much about it because he's a busy guy working in the Oil and Gas industry here in Texas (in other words, Cha-Ching!!!). So by last Thursday, I started to get concerned because I still hadn't heard from him and because he had invited my daughter and I to visit his church today and wee needed to confirm a few details. But instead of picking out something to wear for church today last night, I was in his hospital room watching him rest in a drug-induced coma following a hemorrhagic stroke he suffered on the day we were to meet last weekend. Damn. Just damn.

My childhood friend had battled morbid obesity since his early 20's, but had lost over 150 pounds in the past 5 years through a combination of diet and exercise. But it wasn't enough to prevent him from having a stroke. But what REALLY pisses me off is that he hadn't been taking his blood pressure meds the way he was supposed to or getting enough rest (Black men and those meds!!!!). More importantly, his girlfriend had noticed stroke symptoms in him for over a year and never said a damn word to him about it (and you had to be there to see the MAJOR hairy eyeballs I was giving her last night). Yes, ok, I get it, she isn't in the medical profession and doesn't have a college degree, but how much education do you need to know that something is seriously wrong with a person when they complain of bad headaches or tell you that they feel like their face is drooping??? But I bet she could tell me EVERYTHING I needed to know about that thousand dollar weave she was wearing. URGH!!!!

Anyway, I'm not sure what the prognosis is because I haven't been around when the Docs were there. And what his mother and son have told me is pretty vague. But I also know that when it comes to major brain injuries things are vague though I'm concerned that 8 days after his stroke, his blood pressure still isn't very stable and he hasn't regained consciousness.

Of course the underlying theme in all this for me personally is that I have a little extra motivation to stay the course, though things are as difficult now as they have ever been. So when I think on why things are as difficult now as they have ever been, I'm reminded that I'm developing the"backbone" I'm going to need to make though a combined MD/PhD program. And when I think about my long time friend with the unknown future, I'm reminded that as long as I'm physically able to pursue the MD/PhD, I need to do EXACTLY that. TODAY!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I'm still waiting...................

So while I wait to receive the contract for the gig I accepted (translated they must be looking at other candidates because there's NO excuse for me to not have it yet), I've got another interview set up with another cancer research group for next week. I'm not real clear on what the exact duties are just that it's in GI which I have very little experience in, and none in GI cancer. But with no contract in sight, I'm open to ANY group where I can get financial and career support.

Other than that, I'm glad it's starting to get cool here in hot arse Texas! :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I know why the caged bird sings, Sept 2014

So I had my last meeting with a prospective PI last week, and it went a little something like this:

PI: I noticed you don't have any programming experience, I don't understand why you are interested in my research group (which is a combo bench/bioinformatics work).

Doc201X: Well I've actually been programming for about 3 years now, I started with Java and my last course was in Python. It's listed there (me pointing) on my CV.

PI: Oh.

PI: I noticed you don't have a PhD and I get about 25 resumes a day with people who have PhD's. What can you contribute to my group?

Doc201X: I'm actually working on my PhD in Translational Informatics now. What I do have is a solid understanding of cancer biology and genomics particularly for the type of cancer you're studying right now. In fact, I received a national award for my work in this area. In addition to that and unlike many PhDs who concentrate in either informatics or cancer biology, I'm a bridge to both fields through my lab experiences, education, and work experiences in bioinformatics and cancer biology.

PI: I noticed you don't have any publications and I get about 25 resumes a day with people who have publications.

Doc201X: Actually, I do and that's the work I received a national award in......

PI: (Interrupting me)...... Yes, but I get about 25 resumes a day with people who not only have PhD's but have more than one publication.

Doc201X: Well, if you look at this section (me pointing) of my CV you'll see my publications listed there. Deep sigh.

So after more questions that went like this, I'm thinking I need to end this fiasco ASAP so that's exactly what I did:

Doc201X: Dr. Chinese last name, thank you for meeting me about working with your group. However, I think my skill set would be better suited to a different research group. I thank you again for your time and wish you the best in your future research endeavours. Good afternoon.

I then quickly stood up, shook his hand with STRONG confidence, and I walked out of the door.

Now maybe the fact that he forgot about our meeting in the fist place should have been a sign, I just happened to recognize him at the elevator and mentioned that we had a meeting. But it had been so long since I experienced having a gig disappear like a fart in the wind after meeting with someone, that I forgot what that felt like. It was just amazing how quickly this situation went from "yes, I definitely have a spot for you" after he reviewed my CV before meeting me, communicated with me a few times by email, and with the positive recommendation of the PI I previously worked with over the summer (who is also Chinese), to the scenario that happened above. However, I'm so totally NOT surprised, this kinda $hit happens to people ALL THE FREAKIN' TIME!!!! Especially in academic research positions which is why I wish like hell idda' done something else with my life these past 5 or so years. URGH!!! He did "graciously" mention that I could work for him for free, following up on the research proposal I submitted to him before we met. Hellz naw,  though it does look like volunteering with a research group is what I'll need to do until I can find a paying one that fits on both sides. It'll count toward my required rotations, so I'm not pressed plus I don't want to loose these hard earned bioinformatics skills especially the programming ones. But I damn sure won't be volunteering with HIS group!!! Humph! :)

         "As long as you keep your head to the sky, you CAN win"!!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Unfair advantage???

One of the words I try to keep OUT of my vocabulary is the word unfair. Why? Because many days my life in America could be characterized that way, so I simply choose to focus (most of the time) on the many ways my life is blessed instead.

So when I interviewed a month ago for an Adjunct Faculty position at a local nursing school and was told by my interviewer that my having a tutoring business was not only a potential conflict of interest, but unfair to the students competing with the students I tutor, my mouth just hung open. WIDE open. Because it was truly the most ridiculous thing I had heard recently.

The woman I interviewed with who had a PhD in Psychology and was on faculty at the nursing school was down right adamant that my work outside the position was highly unfair her exact words, to other students seeking admission to the school. But given that 90% of my clients are not only minorities, but some of them under-represented minorities, I wondered in what world would ANY minority student have an "advantage" in anything in America by working with me. Outside of having family members on the Acdom, of course. Now what I thought she was really trying to imply was that I would cheat for my students to help them do well/gain admissions to the nursing school. But what she was blithely unaware of was the fact that I don't cheat for anyone and certainly not the students I work with for two very simply reasons. I'm a person of strong integrity (otherwise I'd still be employed in death pharma) and my students don't need to cheat because we are just that damned good!!! Then it got me thinking about how SUPER ridiculous her concern was when I realized that I tutor students in Bioinformatics too but no one from my current department ever questioned that when I was accepted into the program and later offered a teaching assistantship.

My feeling was that she had a problem with the fact that I had a very specific and VERY well communicated goal of increasing minority representation in the health professions. In fact, I explicitly state that on my website. So yeah I admittedly do go waaaaaayyyyyyy out of my way to help my students but never once have I given a thought to cheating to help them achieve their goals. Because I don't have to, 'cause WE GOT THIS!!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Go shorty, it's your birthday!!!!!

                                            *Image from Google Images

The week of my birth began with one of my mentors Dr. E, telling me that she's going to do an 18 month RN program at a community college so she can go into administration at the public hospital where she's currently working in Informatics. Now for clarity, NO hellz NO, this isn't my newest career revelation, LOL!! Of course, this is a revelation I was already aware of but for a slightly different reason. After my rotations earlier this year in a variety of clinical specialities in medicine, I was reminded that I was missing a LOT of personal and career satisfaction not being involved in patient care. A whole hellva' lot!!! But the nursing model of medicine has never, EVER appealed to me otherwise I would have followed in the foot steps of my Mom, and become an Advanced Nurse Practitioner. Plus the field is dominated with women...............umm HUGE NO THANKS!!!!

This week, I also had to meet with my 2 advisors and was greeted by the one in my current department with "You're applying to med school this year, right?" before Dr. B even said hello, LOL!! So our conversation started with my plans for matriculating into med school for the class entering in the Fall of 2016 and my current study for the MCAT due to my last scores "expiring" this month (according to some schools, scores are only good for 3 years). We then discussed whether or not I should stay in the Biomedical Informatics department or transfer to the Translational Sciences department. Now this advisor has a joint appointment in both departments which is the main reason I picked him, besides the fact that he was my professor in the Spring and I shadowed him at the county hospital where he's an Attending. So we have a REALLY good relationship!! Anyhoo, he suggested I stay where I'm at giving my very specific interests within Biomedical Informatics and that was a relief, because after meeting with my advisor in Translational Sciences earlier in the day, I felt I should stay in the Informatics dept too. But when he started suggesting classes in Artificial Intelligence (and the preq classes to even enroll in that class), I started to question whether or not I'd made the right decision, ROTFL!! One thing he did make crystal clear is that there is a significant need for Physicians trained in the nuances of Health Informatics (translated, those that understand the programming languages used in Health and Biomedical Informatics) and that I was studying the field at a very good time.

On the "work" front I'm still undecided about the next "group" I'm going to join, but I hope to have more clarity after I meet with the last PI on my radar on Tuesday. In the meantime, my Informatics classes keep me plenty busy these days as does the verbal reasoning/MCAT practice I'm managing to integrate into my daily study routine.

Lastly, I got one year closer to the half-century mark age wise on Thursday and since I meet with 3 different PI's on that day too, I'd say that that isn't a typical way one spends their birthday, ROTFL!!! But at this point in my life, I was VERY happy to spend it the way I did since I have long since grown inpatient with where I am in my career right now ie not in an MD/PhD program. But the knowledge that with each passing day, I'm one day closer to my MD/PhD goal means that I wouldn't change a thing about how my special day was spent! Plus, I'm just happy to still be here when so many of my loved ones are not.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Feelin' so good!

                                      *mother/daughter commuter selfie

It's the biggest understatement in the world to say that I was thrilled to learn that one of my "real" gig recommenders knew my future supv VERY well and had also worked with him. It's also no coincidence to say that I'm thrilled to be joining a group that's ALL male and in a relatively new department too, so they'll be room for significant career growth should I decide to stay for a while.

But honestly, this is all a very premature conversation because I haven't officially accepted the job yet. The hold up? Me and another interview I have next week with a Breast Cancer Genomics/Bioinformatics research group. I also haven't seen the final contract yet for the new gig and I've had one too past experiences with folks who think they can "flip the job pay and/or description script" after they think they have me on lock. NO. CAN. DO. My days of accepting less than what I'm worth are OVER.

School wise "everything is everything" as the young folk say and I STAY geeked out about all I'm learning and the people I'm meeting!! The fact that it all is directly related in some way to patient care it just well, my favorite cliche' of all, the icing on the cake! On the MCAT front, I haven't done anything in over a week but it's okay, the beauty of taking a semester to review the verbal section is that I'll have PLENTY of time to catch up. I am also leaning toward not taking any "formal" classes next semester so that I have plenty time to study for my April 2015 test date. But I do plan to work on my programming skills next spring and that will keep me plenty busy enough with a new gig and MCAT review. What I'm not going to so is overwhelm myself so that I can be in the best position to finally get at least that "30+" I'm shooting for!

Speaking of programming, I'm not one of many (new) programmers (or old for that matter) in bioinformatics that does so with hands like these:

But that's cool, I'm finally coming around to being my true self around some of the stiffest but smartest people known to man, ROTFL!!! My blue nails are just one reflecting of how good I'm feeling these days:

Saturday, September 6, 2014


So I've mentioned before that I'm taking a class in translational sciences which is team taught primarily by MDs and MD/PhDs. In this course, the lecturers discuss their research and how it supports the concept of "bench to bedside".

This past week our class was taught by the Doc that discovered the chemotherapy treatment for a major cancer and has spent the past 50 years creating other treatments for this particular cancer. So to say that I was impressed is an understatement. Actually, I had this kinda moment during his lecture:

Now I get that only a true researcher would understand how big of a moment this was for me. And the fact that he said a few kinds words to me was just the icing on the cake. So what did he say? Well he first commented that he "was soooooo glad to see me there" and I understood the underlying meaning of what he said the moment he uttered it. As the only brown face in the class and one only of 2 predoctoral students, I think he was excited to see his field show some much needed diversity. The fact that I answered a few questions during his lecture was just the icing on the impress the prof cake, but I have to always be mindful to not go the "gunner route" during class discussions because I want  good rapport with my classmates as well. I just had to keep pinching myself during the lecture because it seemed like such an unbelievable moment and was again, a much needed reminder to stay the course!

My week ended on a really great note as I'm now considering 3 different offers, 2 at the graduate research assistant (GRA) level and one at the "real job" level. Ironically, the "real" one came after a lecture in my department that was attended by ALL of the folks I worked with in my summer gig (except then mean lady), so needless to say, I had some trepidation about seeing them again. But that all went away quickly when I was warmly greeted by the husband and wife team (with the cute baby), with a very sincere "we REALLY miss having you around". Then the wife proceeded to give me a big huge which caught me totally by surprise because culturally speaking, native Chinese folks aren't that big into hugging, at least not in my experience. Anyhoo, while talking to her my conversation was overheard by two of the speakers that just happened to be looking for someone with my skill set. One thing led to another ie interviews, and now I have an almost 6 figure gig in Texas to consider. Now on one level (financially that is), this should be a no brainer but on another, I'm concerned it could take me down a different path than the one I'm on. In other words, I worry about getting "comfortable" and dropping the MD/PhD for the Doctorate in Health Administration, with a concentration in Information Systems. And in case folks are wondering where that came from, Information Systems is just another manifestation of Biomedical Informatics in a program that is not only part time, but gives me credit for my work experiences in the field.

On the flip side, I also had a moment this week where I thought again about becoming a Pathologist especially as I realized the the Doc's lecture was based on work he did with a Pathologist on board. Yeah, it's kinda hard to get around the field of Pathology where novel cancer treatments are concerned and of course, I've always known this. Now I have to be honest here, if I were 10 years younger I'd be far less stressed about "doing the right thing" now because I'd know that I have time to do something else too. OTOH, tomorrow is not promised to ANYONE at ANY age, so who says that I couldn't say, get the DHA in Information Systems/Translational Informatics, work in that for a few years, GET PAID BIG TIME, then go to med school? Or maybe I'll work on the DHA or PhD in the next two years, go to med school in 2016, then between years 2-3, finish up the DHA or PhD, followed by the MD 2 years later?

Yeah, I think I really like the sound of that last one, but I'm going to meet with my academic advisors next week, make a decision on a gig, then move forward with whatever the heavily "prayed upon" plan is at that time.

This video by Usher pretty much says what I was thinking and this week's lecture, replacing the "God" with "Gosh", of course!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The "devil" of being "tired"

It pretty much never fails that when I feel totally and completely exasperated by my professional goals, something and/or someone reminds me to stay the course. Today that source of my reminder was a post by one of my favourite Doctor bloggers, the Grady Doctor. This reminder like most of them, brought tears to my eyes which is kinda odd when your in the middle of the cafeteria at a major cancer center.

Class wise, things are going well as usual but I did have a moment where I thought about what it means to be in a class full of Oncologists. In total, only 2 of us are at the predoctoral level and it's a little complicated to think about why this situation makes me a little uncomfortable. A good deal of it is that in these settings, I'll get asked at least once if I'm a Physician or what type of Physician I am. And I this question used to make me feel good, but now I find it kinda annoying because it's a reminder of the fact that I'm not where I want to be. Yet. But I'm always gracious when I receive this compliment, saying "thank you" and adding that I'm not a Physician. Yet.

Friday, August 29, 2014

When the mentor needs to be mentored.

It's very odd these days to be both sharing knowledge with other students and needing advice from my own mentors, but that's about where I am these days. And I'm extremely lucky to have people in my life available at a moments notice to lend me their ear.

Class wise, I decided to drop my genetics/human disease course and replace it with a genomics/bioinformatics course and the reason is because: 1) The genetics course is during the day and if I get a "real" gig I'd likely have to drop it and 2) my main "gig" goal right now is to get bioinformatics job and I need as many experiences with it as I can get. So this class is perfect, from PLINK for Genome Wide Association Studies(GWAS) to gene expression analysis by RNA-seq, it's exactly what  need to get back to in order to have a decent shot at a "real" bioinformatics flavored gig.

Movin' on, the image for this post is my view from the medical school library where I've decided to hang out in between classes instead of the library at my kid's school, LOL!!! I also realized that I like studying here (around med students) more than there (around PhD students) for a number of reasons not the least of which is that I realize I need to be around "people people" who I have at least some thing in common with. And in this case, I mean being American born. As a multicultural person I dig that diversity is a good thing, but in this situation where I'm trying to establish myself research wise (again), I need to be in as supportive and encouraging environment as possible. So med school it is. In retrospect, I should have known that a field that is so directly tied to computer science such as bioinformatics would be filled with lots of foreigners, but I obviously underestimated the degree to which American born folks would be displaced. And I use the term displace VERY deliberately because that's exactly the way it seems to be.

Speaking of that, my mentor suggested that because a significant proportion of foreign MDs, PhDs, ect are willing to not only work for far less compensation but also for free in research settings while trying for a post doc or residency, that I would very likely need to do the same thing (again) until I can make that MD/PhD program happen. She also suggested that when I reach out to prospective PIs that I submit a 5-10 presentation of a potential project based on their work. And as a post Doc at the NIH, she would know how to smooze a PI, ROTFL!!! Again generally speaking, I have nothing against foreigners working in research settings but I do have a problem that they seem to be favored by both foreign and American born PIs. Especially, knowing that I could NEVER go to China or India and be "favored" over them. Okay, imma slow my roll on this venting about how I think this practice is ruining research in America as we know it, this wasn't supposed to be a "I know why the caged bird sings" type post. URGH!!

Anyhoo, I remain undeterred in my work/study in this field not just because I thoroughly enjoy it and have some skills, but because I think this field is key to the concept of "bench to bedside". And that's where I plan to make an impact in an underserved setting!

The song for this post has one of my favorite career inspiritng lyrics:

"You're the one that was tryna keep me way down
But like the sun, know you know I found my way back 'round"

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A weeks long test of strength and motivation

Maintaining the motivation to continue on this MD/PhD path isn't something I regularly struggle with. EVER. But over the past ~ 2 weeks where I was ironically on vacation, I had some SERIOUS doubts. Why? In reflecting over my summer research experience and a couple others, I became a combo of p**sed off AND exasperated, thinking that this was yet another case of the same $hit, different day! However like I always eventually do, I shake off the BS and keep it moving!!!

Moving on, I've also had to contemplate the best bioinformatics flavored prospective job I've ever seen in my entire career, it kinda came out if no where. At this point, nothing is official/in writing as of yet and I get a headache thinking about what I'm going to do if I am offered the gig. It's virtual requiring a few trips to the East coast for meetings every now and then, with a little international travel thrown in there for good measure. And given that I'm still looking for a comfortable home for my research interests, I'm taking this as a sign that maybe a low six figure salary is what's needed right now. At least that's what my savings account is screaming, lol!!!

Other happenings right now are that I spend what feels like an obscene amount of time at my daughter's university, as in I feel like the proverbial "helicopter Mom" because of it, lol!! No, I'm definitely NOT spying on her or just checking up to make sure she's staying on top of her classes. It's simply that it's cheaper for me to park at her school and take the metro to my school than vice versa. But I can admit that I DO worry about her being accousted on/around the metro by some if the nastiest homeless people I've EVER seen in my life and by nasty, I mean attitude wise. And I'd really hate to open a can of "whoop a$$" on my way to school on one of 'em, so I choose to park and deal with the nasty folks instead. However, given that we are now both adults and in school, we are having problems delineating between what I'm supposed to buy and what she needs to be responsible for given her free education. So as an example, $100 plus Nike tennis shoes? "Yo' money, baby". Under Armour sports clothes? "Yo' money baby". Online access to chemistry book? "My money this time, but yo' money for everything else. But hey that's what full rides to college are for, and since I'm a student too, contributing "yo" part is even more important, lol!! I'm just thankful and blessed that she has the means to cover everything she needs with money left to spare and save!!

These days I'm also going full steam ahead with my verbal review for the MCAT and so far so good!!! I'm scoring around "10" on the old format though I'd probably better look at the new stuff in depth soon to see if there are any significant differences. As for my classes, they're going very well, I'm taking an informatics course which is a$$ kickin' and one in translational science as well. For now, I've decided to stay put department wise, but in the next few months I'll be earnestly looking into the department I'm thinking of transferring too. Much of the cause of my hesitation about moving stems from another adage from my grandmother, "better a dog you know than one you don't" and the fact that the Doc I shadow is in my current department and has always had my back. So we'll see how this goes over the next few months.

Lastly, I want to "shout out" my readers for the comments and emails, I certainly need the reminders to stay focused! Speaking if focused, I listen to this song by Mack Wilds almost every day to get my mind right before studying:

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Leibster Award!!

So, I was recently nominated for the Leibster Award by Danielle, author of the blog Aspiring Minority Doctor. Hers is a blog FULL of info for the premed, so you should definitely check it out if you're nontraditional and premed too! And thanks for the nomination Danielle!


To accept the award, here are the rules:

The Liebster Award Rules
1. Thank the nominator and post a link to his/her blog
2. Display the award on your blog
3. Answer the eleven questions provided by the nominator
4. Nominate 5-11 blogs which have less than 1,000 followers, and let them know they’ve been nominated
5. Make up and post eleven questions for your nominees to answer
6. Post these rules on your blog

Here are Danielle's questions for me:
1. What's one major lesson that you have learned from blogging?
That the Internet has some of the most wonderful people on the planet. And also the most evil, it never occurred to me that some of my writings could so incense (insecure/racist) people so much that they would contact schools they thought I'd applied to, to prevent me from achieving my goals.
2. What's your guilty pleasure?
Love and Hip Hop Atlanta, ROTFL!!!!
3. What is one thing that most people find surprising about you?
That I'm really serious about earning the MD/PhD.
4. What is your favorite quote?
Excellence eventually trumps ignorance.
5. Are you a morning person or a night-owl?
I'm actually both, I wake up happy no matter what time it is or how much sleep I've had the night before. But also enjoy staying up all night too.
6. What is one thing that you miss the most from your childhood?
Living in northern Cali, cool, open minded people and great weather!
7. What's the best advice that you could give to your younger self?
Live for today and enjoy every moment of it!!!
8. What's one of your pet peeves?
People who give me instructions while we're on the computer together. I don't really need to be told to click on the next tab, URGH!!!!
9. Do you prefer dogs or cats?
I've had /have and LOVE both pets, so both!
10. What's your favorite season?
Depends on where I am, here in hot a$$ Texas I LOVE winter, but on the East coast, I prefer the Spring.
11. What motivates you to keep blogging?
The knowledge that there are people who have commonalities with me, be it age, gender, and/or race, ect , that are looking for the motivation to keep pressing on toward their goals!!!!

I couldn't think of 5-10 blogs with less than 1000 views because all the sites I love are VERY popular! But I have decided to nominate this blog, A 40 year old medical student because the author is so positive and absolutely one of the most determined people I know!

So, here are my questions for her if she has time in between starting 3rd year clinical rotations to answer:

1.    If you could have dinner with anyone in your past or future profession, who would it be?
2.    What significant obstacle have you overcome to get to where you are now?
3.    What is your favorite gift you've ever received from your child(ren)?
4.    Facebook, yes or no?
5.    What do you want to be “when you grow up”?
6.    What do you love about yourself?
7.    What's the best piece of academic advice you're ever received?
8.    Flats or Stilettos?
9.    Boxers or briefs (on men)?
10.What's your favorite class of all time?

11.Who has been your biggest mentor/support?