Tuesday, January 27, 2009

First "Real" Quiz


My chemistry class gives each student the best score of two attempts, either of which MUST be above 70% to go into the lab that week. Something has changed with me. No longer satisfied with passing, I want all points, or at least if I lose a point it is because I truly did not understand something vs. I truly did not care as much. Back in 1982, the latter was my life.

At 5 AM this morning, with a "slightly" passing grade worming around inside my head, anxiety settling in wondering what am I thinking, I got up and got ready for the day. At 9 AM, the chem lab tutors found my butt promptly seated asking questions, "Why did I get this wrong? Please help me understand. I need to know how to get the right answer but in my old age (haha), I also need to understand why the reaction does what it does."

Dutifully, and without complaint (at least to me!!) he helped me, quizzed me when stuck to get me to think in terms I assume will appear on exams, and then let me complete the work.

Taking the quiz again (they are different quizzes just on similar material) ... 100% never felt so awesome, so incredibly worth what I'm doing. It was a tiny 100% but in all honesty, true honesty, in the 10 years I have spent at the U off and on since 1982, it was my first.

And nothing has felt so sweet... I look forward to working my butt off for many, many more!

Make it a great day!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Week One

Was a wild one! Lecture halls filled with vibrant, "youthful", exuberance replete with over active vocal skills. One of the lectures contains a young student who is ... obnoxious. There is no other way to describe the individual.

Was telling my 17 year old son about the student asking really, really obnoxious questions and seemingly undeterred even when the professor would not respond anymore. My son exclaimed, "That's something I would do!" Exactly. My son is 17 and a junior in high school, this student is probably 19 or so and a sophomore in college, not a community college, not a private, well heeled college, a top-notch research institution.

I was not ready for that. Ready for the sharp minds that comprehend new data as easily as driving a car, ready for quick thinking students, but not ready for the obnoxiousness I thought I left behind in 1982 when I, myself, graduated from high school and went to college.

Which made me wonder. Was I like that? I don't think so. My parents instilled in me, commanded in me to some degree, to treat authority figures with respect - teachers, doctors, law enforcement, and anyone around my parents' age.

What has happened to parenting styles that kids think they can behave like that, treat others like that?

I know for me, if teachers were to tell me my son was a behavior problem in school, it would be dealt with immediately. Thankfully, most of his teachers think the world of a kind soul that helps, is respectful, and happy-go-lucky. Come to think of it, I think the world of him too.

Last little surprise came from someone more my age: the professor. Unprepared, ill-spoken, not approachable and I am certainly unsure why they are teaching at a classy institution like the U. The lecture had no focus, and no strategy to deliver the requisite material, ending simply because the clock hit the quitting time.

Wow. Good thing our businesses are not run like that... oh wait...

'Til next week, make it a great day!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Oh Boy, Here I Go

Gopher-land, that mystical place I will call home for a few years, beckoned me to orientation along with about 200 other incoming transfer students. After looking around the crowd I saw many parents with their querying looks sizing me up, whilst I held my bright orientation bag. I'm sure they were wondering. Maybe I should have mentioned, I'm wondering too!

After the opening remarks it was onto indoctrination in all that is, the University of Minnesota. It is a grand institution. Having grown up in this beloved state, everything revolved around being an alumni from the U, incidentally I am, just not from the Twin Cities.

Some 20 years ago, I walked across a podium and was given a maroon folder inside of which it explained when my degree would be mailed to me. Some 20 years ago, I beamed as I sauntered across the podium fully knowing what I'd worked for and what it meant to me.

Now, 20 years later I am set. I have my textbooks for classes I'm either enrolled in or praying that there is a seat available for me. I'm praying that this latest journey of mine ends much more simply (I did not say EASY) than the journey I took 27+ years ago.

Med school, M.D., and a life fulfilled dream of serving and helping others.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Placement Exam Scores

I dove in today and took my final placement exam. Figuring I'd be caught between needing to take remedial math at one of the local community colleges and then "graduate" to taking "real" math classes at the U, I tested just short of being put into calculus.

Somewhere between the Cotangent of 75 and Cosign of 30, I got lost. I'm not even sure what those mean, but apparently, I am going to find out.

The kind lady at the desk where my test was scored said I placed exactly where she thought I would... advanced pre-calc II. Once in awhile that little creeper of a voice pipes up and out, "Don't you think maybe since it's been say... 26 years since I've had any sort of formalized math training, I should start with one class lower?"

She was insistent. Knowing what my ulitmate goal is, she smiled and insisted some more, "What kind of doc are we going to turn you into, if you don't overcome this self-doubt?"

I pouted a bit. "It's an easy A tho. Kind of a confidence booster."

She laughed, "What kind of confidence boost is it when you take a class you know you can ace without trying? Why not take a class that will push you a bit, AND get the A?"

She's right, of course. Absolutely, precisely right. Then she gave me some other tidbits of guidance and wisdom having seen many pre-meds come through their door. I plan on keeping in touch with her for shortly after meeting with her, I went to the computer lab and registered...

For pre-calc II.

Sometimes it's listening to those around me who are being paid to help, not to make life harder. So I will, and I did, and I shall... get that A and move onto Calc in the summer.

As I left she said my feet should be floating. And she was right... they still are.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Grumposaurus Sapien

I'm grumpy, irritable, and quite frankly, finding myself "short" with people which is scaring me a little. For the most part, I'm pretty happy surviving life's challenges with smiling face because I know there is a rainbow in every situation no matter how difficult.

This past year was a doozy. People I thought I could trust and talk to, betrayed me in ways I'd never fathomed. Without lamenting the economic drain on society, I wonder about the emotional and mental drain on the people who inhabit this country due to it.

I'm grumpy. I look at the younger generation and think about all my chances to do what I'm currently doing, wasted.

When I was 18 a very close family friend gave me his gross anatomy books from med school and said he'd do whatever else he could to help me. He was an amazing family man, great family friend, and surgeon who loved his patients. At 18 I held the world in my hands, at 22 I was given another chance and blew that one as well.

The surgeon and his wife Ruth were like 2nd parents to me at times. Encouraging, listening, helping, offering, consoling, and more encouraging and I wasted it all. Like many of the people whose presence I was graced with during my life, they have both since passed away. He was 90+, she was a bit younger. I wish I could tell them, I wish... and then I'm grumpy!

So now I hear of young people wanting to go to med school like it's a walk in a candy shop. "Oooh, I think I'll pick that over there and take two of those, and maybe that class over there and maybe if I get a 3.3, I'll get in?" And I'm grumpy.

Not specifically at them, but probably more at myself because once upon a time I was 24 and had other chances. At one time I was 33 and still had open doors - WIDE open doors and connections into things that are unheard of in today's world.

At 44, I'm going to be busting my butt to give myself another chance that was offered to me 20 years ago. And while I can't wait, I'm grumpy because I mourn the loss of what I had and the ability to say thank you to those who encouraged and supported me years ago.