Although I questioned it at first, I now understand why my adviser didn't know I would soon be conducting research at one of the top medical schools in the US. I've had so many interviews that seemed promising only to be let down in the end, so I guess I really didn't believe it myself until I got the contract by email last week. And I suppose I'm really not all that surprised that with this "new realization", he's now encouraging me to complete my dissertation with this infectious disease(ID) group despite the low publication rate of my adviser. So now that I'm thoroughly confused about what I should do dissertation research wise, I've decided to put the dissertation issue on the back burner and focus on 4 things over the next 1.5 years: 1) Scoring well on the MCAT later this summer, 2) Learning as much as I can in my ID data research gig, 3) Finishing up my 2 health data certifications by the end of the year, and 4) Finishing all my PhD courses/passing my written and oral exams. And that is MORE than enough for ANY one person to do in 1.5 years!
Movin on', in what is now my 6th week teaching general chemistry at a predominately Hispanic college, I'm realizing that the challenges many of my students face outside of the classroom are pretty damn difficult to overcome. And with the knowledge that many of the students at the wealthy predominately White university where I last taught, not only have supportive parents encouraging them toward excellence but also attend regular tutoring, I'm getting a better understanding of why Black and Brown kids don't pursue careers in STEM. But when I learned at a faculty retreat this past Friday that only 13% of the STEM students at my school graduate, something else in me started brewing, something that became a FULL blown anger at "the system". I have "a few" college degrees all obtained at predominately White universities, including some of the best universities in the country. And at NO time in my tenure at ANY school do I think a pass rate of 13% in STEM would EVER be acceptable! EVER!! So why in the hell is it "acceptable" at this college?
URGH!! Anyhoo, I have a couple ideas about what they need to do to turn this thing around starting with getting a better Chemistry textbook! The book we're using now (General Chemistry by McMurry et al) is just terrible in it's organization. Yeah, McMurry has a fantastic textbook for Organic Chemistry (it's in my Orgo collection, though I've never used it for a class). But just because you can author a great orgo book doesn't mean you can effectively author any other chemistry textbook, especially general chemistry. And I know this book well because my kid "used" it in her AP Chemistry class in high school a few years ago. Actually, she ended up learning chemistry from my Petrucci Chemistry textbook from the 1980's and only last year did I update to the 4th edition of Petrucci just to modernize my general chemistry textbook collection. Here it is in case someone reading is looking for a good chemistry textbook, just make sure to order the solutions manual too:
This experience like so many others I've had in the educational field, are a reminder that while I do enjoy it to a large degree and welcome the opportunity to mentor and "give back" to women and/or minority/disadvantaged students, committing to it full-time isn't something that will ever be on my long term goal list. Because like Big Pharma, I find far too many "unnecessary" obstacles to success that people in these industries not only find acceptable, they seem indifferent too. The "as long as I've got mine, you get yours the best you can" attitude, is simply more than I can tolerate.