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?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Let's get it started!!!

In celebration of my new blog look and location, I'm playing Hammer and trying not to think about how I used to dance back in the day, LOL!!!

PS- Who among you wore the "hammer pants" back in the day which have sadly become popular again, or know/loved someone who did, LOL???

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Going back to what I know

So I've been invited to attend orientation for PhD students in my unofficial "new" department and I'm psyched that I was extended an invitation by my "new" department's director given that I won't be official until this Spring. But like a dweeb I missed the minority student researcher's picnic last weekend, but I was tired, it was hot, and Texas is NO place to be outside in the summer time!

I'm still not really feeling a lab based PhD project, but at this point I'm going with what I already know VERY well, in a department where English is the native language. Now I hate that I had to "go there", but anyone who thinks allowing Doctoral programs to have more non American than American students has lost their non loyal, d@mn mind!

I've also decided on the cancer bio track too and anyone who's been reading my blog knows that I've been doing cancer research since before I started this blog. Of course that means that a good portion of my background is going to come into play class wise, but I'll refrain from forming a "favorite research topic" until I can find a good group with a supportive mentor/PI. Blessedly, since I'll have the minority researchers orgo to network with, it'll be MUCH easier for me to "screen" groups AND PI's.

With all that said, I am under NO illusion that things are going to be cherio 24/7 in my new department because that's just the nature of grad school. However normal challenges aside, that minority support group is going to be worth it's weight in gold for me, just as it was in my 2 other grad programs.

The song I selected for this post is from my favorite Ne-Yo album and is a reminder that sometimes you just have to stop fighting to stay where you aren't welcomed, and go back to what you know. And what I know like the back of my hand is cancer bio, so with me adding a little translational informatics flavor, this is feeling like a recipe for some serious goal achieving!!