Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Last Hurrah

Well this is it! It's over. The program has come to a close and I will officially be a Master of Pharmacology. It's incredible. This program has given me so much, and I'm very glad I decided on it. This month has been a whirlwind as we've closed down the semester. We had our last exam on Tuesday, so it's still settling in. I've been back at KIPP, whittling away those hours in my favorite copy room. It will be sad to see all my friends I've made in this program leave as I look to stay here, but I'm excited for the new challenges ahead. As I search for a job, I realize I've actually become a real adult. No more can I hide behind the curtain of graduate school in order to stave off the impending doom of adulthood. I'm hopeful that I can land a job doing research here at Tulane, as it would definitely help my resume when applying this coming cycle. Speaking of which, that is rapidly approaching. I'm currently studying hard for the MCAT (the studying never stops), and preparing my application. It's all happening at the same time, which is crazy, but luckily that means it will all be over soon. So long to my 3 readers.


April hours - 8

This semester total - 22

Year total - 60

Monday, April 3, 2017

March Madness

Another month has flown by, and we only have another month left in this program. It's crazy how quickly time has passed!! In the middle of March, we had our massive cumulative shelf exam, the summation of 8 months of learning and tutelage. It was challenging, but I'm very glad it's over. Now we just have a few more classes here and there until we're out of here at the end of April. Unfortunately, because of the business during March, I wasn't able to volunteer too much. I was only able to do some at KIPP. This upcoming weekend, however, I'll be planting trees again in the swamps of Louisiana in order to preserve that ever-important coastline. Over the course of our environmental pharmacology lectures, we've learned that New Orleans is basically done for, in terms of the rising sea level. Hopefully, this work to restore the coastline will do some to mitigate that. With more free time, I'll also look forward to returning to KIPP and continuing my volunteering there. Finally, we have some lead sample collection to do as we examine New Orleans' lead levels. This month will be exciting and challenging, as I complete my masters coursework and ramp up my MCAT studying. In addition, I'll be preparing my application for med school. It'll be a busy two months, but I'm looking forward to it.

Total hours - 14

March Hours - 4

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


In early February, a tornado struck New Orleans east and wrought serious damage to hundreds of homes. It was estimated to have been an EF3 category tornado, the third strongest possible tornado in existence. Thankfully, no one was killed in the disaster. However, countless lives were ruined because of the damage. On a bright Thursday morning two days after the storm, my classmates and I drove out with the Red Cross to help with damage assessment. Essentially, we were categorizing homes based on their damage. The "grade" we gave it would determine how much aid money they would receive. It was crazy to see how some home would be completely untouched, yet three doors down, a house would be gone--yes gone, with only the concrete foundation remaining. The resolve of those in the neighborhood was incredible. Many had experienced Hurricane Katrina as well, so most of their frustration and anger was directed at FEMA's general uselessness. It was understandable, given their lack of presence in the area. I plan to go again as soon as my schedule permits. Although a month has passed since the tornado struck, those people still need help.

Here's one of the crazier photos I grabbed. A trucked completely upside down, incase you suddenly lose the ability to see at this point in the blog.

Total Hours - 10

February - 10

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Back at it again

After an all too short two week break, I found myself back in New Orleans ready for another semester. It's picked up pretty quickly, so I haven't had much time to volunteer. Our normally free time to go KIPP is now occupied by a new class, so it's been difficult to make it out there. With research and school in full swing, I haven't been able to perform my good samaritan's duty and volunteer this month, but I fully intend to get back out there once my schedule settles down. I've looked into other places to volunteer as well, like more coastal restoration or habitat for humanity.

This semester is different from the first one, with more classes that carry less weight. I wouldn't call it busy work; rather, I'd say I'm spending more time in the classroom for different lectures/seminars than normal. The material is engaging as always, so I have no trouble staying interested. I'm anxious to take our shelf exam, the massive cumulative exam that covers everything we've learned since July. It is worth 25% of our grade in med pharm this semester, so preparations have already begun. After that, I'll be taking my MCAT again and applying to medical school. It'll be a busy 3-4 months!!

January Hours - 0 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Fin (for the semester)

November Hours -
KIPP - 4

Total Hours - 38

Somehow it's already the end of November, with Thanksgiving gone and Christmas to look forward to. These 5 months in New Orleans have really flown by; I can't believe I'm 2 weeks away from being halfway done with this masters program! I'm very excited for next semester, as the classes will become more elective focused and hopefully the research I'm doing with my lab group will pick up. I haven't been able to commit as much time as I'd like to the lab because of my erratic course schedule, but next semester should hopefully be easier in that regard. Service hours were light this month, because I've already reached my requirement for two credit hours. At KIPP, we continued to sort through their files, giving teachers time to perform other tasks that are more important.
Thankfully, the brunt of the semester's work is over, with only one exam left until Christmas break. It's incredible how much information we've actually learned in our relatively short time here. While I was home for Thanksgiving, I was able to rattle off the mechanism of action, side effects, and indication of some medications I'd seen my Dad taking. It was a simple but revelatory experience that showed me I'm definitely on the right path to my future. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Digging Holes and Dissections

This month has certainly been a busy one for volunteering. I officially completed my 30 hour requirement, so everything from here on out is solely for my own personal fulfillment. A classmate and I went deep into the swamps of Louisiana to plant trees, restoring the coastline and saving the world from global warming. It was a long and grueling effort; 8 hours under the sun planting hundreds of trees. Tiresome as it was, the work was its own reward, with each trip back to our base revealing fewer and fewer trees to plant. The goal for the day was to plant 650 trees, split among 20 or so volunteers. As fun as it was, I think my next outdoor volunteering excursion will be a little more conventional--habitat for humanity perhaps.

In addition to coastal restoration, I continued my efforts at KIPP this month, helping out with even more photocopies and filing. I was also able to take a trip to one of KIPP's high school and assist with a 9th grade biology dissection lab. The teacher and I walked around the room and answered questions about the various animals splayed open on the table as the students completed worksheets. This was one of the more enjoyable volunteering experiences I've had in my time here, and I look forward to going back and helping out more.

The picture shows the very sweaty and dirty group of volunteers after a day of tree planting. It was fun!

October Hours -
KIPP - 6

Coastal Restoration - 8

Total hours - 34

Friday, September 30, 2016

Photocopies Pt. 2: Electric Boogaloo

Another month gone by in the blink of an eye. A quick trip back home to San Antonio left me recharged and ready to surge forward as we tackle the ANS/CV system. This masters program has provided me with an excellent background in physiology, something I've been sorely missing. It will be an excellent foundation as I move forward into a medical career.

Volunteering this month was a little more sparse, with teacher's holidays at KIPP and long weekends preventing us from attending. I have continued to slog through the hundreds of photocopies required for weekly booklets. Since this has been my task for quite some time, I'll delve a little further into what it entails. Each grade has a new book every week designed to stretch their reading skills. It is an opportunity to read books at a higher reading level than they are used to. There are roughly 100 kids per grade, meaning each book needs to be made into 100 copies, for every week, for every grade. It should not come as a surprise that KIPP goes through almost 70,000 pieces of paper per week. Although trivial, this task takes a great burden off the teachers' backs, no longer requiring them to make the copies.

Here is a picture of me in my new favorite place, the copy room, with all my copies. 

September Hours -
KIPP - 6

Total Hours - 20