Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Final Stretch

Hi everyone!

Tonight, I am excited to inform you that this will be my final blog post of the semester. The last four and a half months truly flew by in the blink of an eye and has been an exhilarating roller coaster ride for me. I came into this program nervous about my aspirations of becoming a doctor, yet eager to prove that I deserve a spot in this program and a seat in medical school. As I reflect on my progress this semester, I realize the enormous amount of information I have learned. From the cardiovascular/ANS systems to infectious diseases to the renal system, I have learned about a copious amount drugs, their mechanism of action, their indications, and side effects. By no means was this an easy task, and I remember initially feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information and wondered if I could really learn it all and be able to properly diagnose a patient. After months of continuously changing and customizing a study plan that best fits me for medical pharmacology, the second year medical school course, I feel I am at point where I can handle anything that is thrown at me. And to be able to say this about a second year medical course is a wonderful feeling. It has given me confidence that I never thought of having before entering medical school. In addition, being able to master and comprehend this course's material gives me a new found confidence that I will be able to bring with me to future medical school interviews. For this, I am grateful for Tulane's Masters of Pharmacology program. 

Another part of the Masters program is a volunteering component. Being the designated tutor of my large extended family, seventeen cousins to be exact, I have grown up to love kids and helping them understand their math and science classes with confidence. I am amazed at how much a confident child can learn compared to a child who doesn't think they have the ability to learn the material. When I found out about SciHigh, it seemed like the perfect volunteer opportunity. SciHigh has honestly exceeded all my expectations. My first day was the most memorable because the students welcomed me and had no problems asking for my help on school work. But my favorite moment was when they asked me questions about college and was interested about applying after I answered some of their questions. To some of us, college was the mandatory next step after high school, or so we thought at least. But for many of the kids at SchHigh, college may or may not be something they have thought about. Thus, being able to encourage them to think about it and having a positive reaction is an awesome feeling. I understand that this isn't a conversation that happens once. This is something that has to be brought up throughout the school year and broken up into obtainable goals, which is why I plan on seeing the kids on a regular basis and volunteering at SciHigh for as long as I can. All in all, I am satisfied and happy with my progress in the program and with my volunteering experience. It feels great to be productive and I look forward to continuing this wonderful progress next semester. See y'all then. Cheers!

This month's community service hours: 16 hours 
Total semester service hours: 30 hours 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Pharm or Treat?

Hi y'all!

I've never used the term "y'all" before I came down South and now it's something I say without hesitation. Cool beans. Where do I begin...well, where did October go? October has been a whirlwind of a month. Busy to say the least. We started the month halfway through our Cardiovascular/ANS block. That block was especially dense and complex so a large chunk of my time was devoted to studying. I must say; I believe this was the hardest block so far but it was also the most interesting and rewarding block. After spending so many hours learning about all the heart failure drugs and ANS drugs, it felt good to be able to explain it to my friends and family back at home with ease. I’ve been in this pharmacology program for about 3 and a half months now and I feel like I am getting a taste of what medical school will be like. It is all about time management, keeping up with school, extracurricular activities; while finding time to do everything you want to do in between. It is doable and to be able to do it all without feeling overwhelmed or tired is an amazing feeling. I believe it is a routine and the sooner you get into it, the easier it gets. It took me over 2 months to get into the mentality and it is something I still work on every day. But as with anything, practice makes perfect. I feel like I say this on a monthly basis (and I’m sorry about that!) but I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to experience all of this through Tulane’s Pharmacology department. This program has made me a stronger medical school applicant and that is something I sincerely appreciate.

Another activity I’ve been busy with this month is volunteering at SciHigh. The kids just had their Science Fair last week and it was awesome to be a part of it again. Science Fair was one of my favorite activities in high school and I definitely had some trouble containing my excitement for it. Being a part of it this time as a teacher was also a different but fun experience nonetheless. What I realized is that the challenge of being a teacher is getting a wide range of kids who are very curious and involved to kids who don’t seem to understand the excitement of science. So, it is up to the teacher, and the volunteer, to make it fun and exciting for those students. I tried my best and hope the kids were excited as I was. And this wraps up my October post. November feels like it’s already in full swing and it is only the 1st. But no problems here, I’m ready to dive right into it! Cheers!

This month's community service hours- 8 hours
Total semester service hours- 14 hours

Friday, September 30, 2016

Po Boys, Gumbo, Crawfish Etouffee Fries, and more!

Annnddddd just like that, another month has passed by; quicker than a blink of an eye. September has been an exciting and eventful month for this Midwestern girl. Two of my good friends visited, on separate weekends; and as you can guess, there was a lot of exploring and eating that occurred. I now understand why the French Quarters is such a popular tourism spot. There is so much life and culture overflowing in that mile-long walk and there is literally something to do for all ages. I can go on and on about how awesome the French Quarter is but I digress…I am very excited to show more of my family and friends the beauty of NOLA as they make their rounds to visit me.

On another note, I also started volunteering at New Orleans Charter Science and Mathematics High School this month, tutoring kids in Environmental Science. I am elated to have chosen this volunteering opportunity because I feel like I am really getting a lot out and growing as a person again while working with the kids and learning from them. I forgot what it was like to be in high school, with all the insecurities and distraction that comes with growing up. Sometimes the kids just need hear you say something like, “wow you’d make a great engineer with that kind of logic” to knock an assignment out of the ball park. It has truly been a humbling experience and such an honor to teach these kids and hangout with them on a weekly basis. In the future, I’d like to tutor another class when I have more time so that I can reach out to more kids.   

As with school, classes have been in full swing for a while now. We just finished our 3rd block exam. School is kicking my butt, but in a very gratifying way. Going to class and studying is part of my everyday routine now. And it is a routine I’m glad to be in because without the routine, my grades would be nowhere near what it is now. And I believe medical school will be like this so I’m glad I have this part down at least! There is always room for improvement and I’m looking forward to scoring even higher on the next block exam! Thanks for tuning in, I’ll be back soon with another monthly update!

This month's community service hours- 6 hours
Total semester service hours- 6 hours 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Beginning

Hello New Orleans!

After a long and arduous 14-hour drive from Chicago, I finally made it to The Big Easy! This is my first time stepping into the state of Louisiana so I was beyond excited to start a new chapter of my life here. Being a big fan of seafood, music, and warm weather, there was just no way I could pass up the opportunity to go to school in New Orleans when I got accepted into the Masters of Pharmacology Program. NOLA has not disappoint! I’m happy to say that my experience here has been wonderful so far. NOLA is an exhilarating city, filled to the brim with culture and activities on a weekly basis. After being here for about 6 weeks now, I finally got the hang of working diligently on school work during the week and enjoying what the city has to offer on the weekends. It's a great routine to be in.

We are currently on our third block of the semester, focused around neoplasia, cardiology, and thrombosis. A topic that really grabbed my attention was the discovery of angiogenesis inhibition as a way to combat tumor growth. The work that Dr. Judah Folkman pioneered was truly inspiring and revolutionary. It taught me that if you really believe in something, no matter how many people disagree with you, you should see it to the end or until you have convinced yourself otherwise; and not let other people decide for you that you are wrong.

Currently, I am not one hundred percent satisfied with my performance on the block exams. My challenge is that I try to learn and memorize all the information presented to us when I should really be looking at the learning objectives and focusing on those topics. This has always been an issue for me as a student, I want to know every little detail and in that process lose the view of the “big picture”. This is something I will continue to work on every day and hopefully my exam scores will reflect my positive progress.

All in all, I am very happy with the decision to come to New Orleans and enroll in the Masters of Pharmacology program. My experience so far, academically and personally, has exceeded all of my expectations and I cannot wait to see what’s in store. Cheers! 

  My favorite food on the planet, oysters. I would eat them all day and night if I could.

Of course I had to try out the fried oyster salad as well. Not bad! But raw oysters are still the way to go!