Category: Academics

Academics: majors and classes at UIC.

You did good, son

It really feels good to hold events for the public, whether it is going to some space like a high school class or just nearby on campus. Being there for the whole experience is the icing on top of the cake! Watching my fellow future physicians suture for the first time was really exciting, and even though I probably won’t be a plastic surgeon (my first few sutures were quite terrible, lol), I hope that the activity instilled more motivation to pursue medicine in general. The CHI-FEST Suture Clinic, partnered with Kaplan and the U.S. Army, was a great success! I’m so proud of my pre-medical club members who participated in CHI-FEST (Community Health Initiative) as well as those who figured out all of the logistical details to make these events possible.

SFP CHI-FEST Suture Clinic with Kaplan and U.S. Army

We had a great turn out at the SFP CHI-FEST Suture Clinic Event partnered with Kaplan and the U.S. Army. We learned the simple, interrupted suture as well as the simple running suture (I did not attempt the latter because I was still busy learning the first one well without cramping my fingers with the tools, lol!).

A few things about CHI-FEST: Society of Future Physicians (SFP) has a history of holding this event annually with other pre-medical organizations to engage the community concerning health topics as well as creating opportunities to network with each other and get to know current health professionals in the field. As the vision of CHI-FEST is noble, the actual orchestration of making this event possible was never really realized for the past 4 years that I have been here. There would be a medical student panel and physician panel, which was great, but nothing larger-scale than that for the public.

This year, however, we were able to have this super awesome suture clinic at UIC, invite UIC medical students for a panel and invite UIC alumni who were physicians (and a PharmD!) for a panel, have a space for our Health Education Program and Social Outreach Program members to present their community projects / educate fellow college members on health issues and had a “pre-health mixer” where we got to meet and network with other students. Ah, it was fantastic!

 

SFP CHI-FEST - Milie's Pig Foot

My horrible suturing, haha! We used pig feet to learn how to suture with 3.0 nylon and silk. The techniques were just like the ones I see the ER doctors use in the actual ER (like if someone comes in with their skin cut from glass). My first few sutures were pretty bad (so loose), but it got better as I struggled less with the tools.

SFP CHI-FEST - Alison's Pig Foot

My friend Alison had great suturing technique! "Future plastic surgeon!" - U.S. Army representatives who taught us how to suture.

Those events spanned a hectic 2 days, and before that we also had our elections for SFP. I had to run over from the UIC Student Research Forum (SRF) to get there because the staff were still tallying up the judge’s scores. This was my first time presenting a research poster at the UIC SRF event and it was really awesome! I’ve always wanted to go and present my research, but it would always be during class time and I could not afford to miss class. This year, while it did coalesce with BIOS 221 (genetics lab), we were just doing class presentations and the instructor said I could be excused. Phew!

There were so many different topics and the judges were varied as well. My poster is basic science heavy, so when my first judge told me he was a law professor, my mind was like “Oh crap I have no idea how this will be, but here I go!” When I had two judges from the medicine department come by, that was a ton easier to talk about my research and they seemed pretty interested in my work (which got me more excited to talk about it, haha!). I didn’t win an award, but that’s OK! The experience was really fun! The reception right after presentations was nice since there was food and whatnot. I sat next to an orthopedic surgeon and we talked about charting and documentation (told him I was a scribe!). After my talk with him, I think he’ll probably look into hiring scribes for his office, haha! Too bad I can’t scribe outside of my job, but I don’t mind. I really love my scribe job, as inconvenient as the hours are with my school schedule and research schedule. I’m just happy that the semester is almost over so that I can spend my summer doing research and working in the hospital (and paying off those loans!).

UIC SRF Maharshi and Milie

I took a picture with my fellow SFP pal in front of his poster at the UIC Student Research Forum! Thanks Maharshi for the photo!

I still haven’t heard back from Fulbright yet, but I’ll definitely keep you all in touch with my plans! I have a weird feeling it will be announced when my MCAT scores come out (April 22 apparently).

Ah, what else is new…oh yes I attended the 42nd Annual Chancellor’s Student Service and Leadership Awards! I’ve never been to this event before, and I also did not know who nominated me for an award (the Chancellor’s Student Service Award) since the person remained to be anonymous on the online form. Well, whoever you are, thank you so much for the nomination! I wish I understood that I received the award (I thought it was just a nomination, so I didn’t think about dressing up all fancy like everyone else was). Three of my fellow SFP members were inducted into the Activities Honorary Society (a big deal), so I was glad to watch them light their candles! I felt very proud that they were representing the organization as well as their other organizations that they’re a part of at UIC.

42nd Annual Chancellor's Student Service and Leadership Awards

I went to the 42nd Annual chancellor's Student Service and leadership Awards and here is a picture of the inductees for the Activities Honorary Society. Congratulations to my fellow SFP Members/Friends Avni Bavishi, Elizabeth Garcia and Masood Qader! Another shout out to a fellow blogger, Michael Queroz!

Eek. Only a few more weeks until I graduate…which means only a few more weeks until I stop blogging! :( I’ll have to make my own blog I guess, haha! When I have time…which somehow I manage to make time for…

LOVE!

Re-inspired to make a difference

Last week, I attended the Chancellor’s Student Service Leadership Awards. It was my fourth time attending this event and I still leave the ceremony even more proud of UIC and its students.
I had the honor to receive the Chancellor’s Student Service Award for the fourth year in a row, as well as being inducted into the Alumni Association Activities Honorary Society. I was very happy that I was being inducted into such a longstanding honors tradition at UIC, one that stems back from the days when UIC’s campus was at Navy Pier.

Activities Honorary Society induction

However, it wasn’t the fact that I received the awards that made me happiest. Instead, it was seeing the tremendous impact and leadership skills that the students bring not only to our university, but to the greater community as well. So many students at UIC, many of them the ones who sit next to you in class or that you see in the Inner Circle, are involved in on-campus extra-curriculars and external organizations that make a positive impact on society. As I sat in the ceremony, I never knew that the girl that I always see in my nutrition class has also served over 100 hours volunteering for a hospital. Or the guy that I ate near during the reception also spends countless hours assuring that homeless people have food and that the health needs are met for children. UIC has so many students that do so much to benefit those that need it. UIC is a prime example that many college students aren’t just party loving, nap taking, lazy young adults.
The event inspired me, and I’m sure countless others, to do even more for people in need – or even just the campus! It made me remember the importance of giving back and the great feeling that comes along with it. Perhaps, instead of watching a marathon of my favorite show on a Saturday morning, I can instead go out and find an outlet to give back. Or instead of napping on a Sunday afternoon, I can go out and help someone just for the great feeling that comes along with it.
The bottom line is, I feel like there is always more that I can do for the school and the larger community. It’s important to never get lazy and content – always strive to do better and give better.
How about you? What can you do to make a difference?
Until next time…
Mike

Award and me!

Summer in the city

Winter is something we, as Chicagoans, tolerate.  At first, usually in November, we don’t mind it.  The first snow is exciting.  The kids hope for snow days.  Parents don’t.  But we can all admit that winter in November and December is easier to tolerate than in MARCH! And after days and days AND DAYS of the Polar Vortex, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that WE WILL HAVE WARM WEATHER AGAIN.  Let’s face it, summer in Chicago is pretty amazing and that’s why we tolerate those awful 9 months of winter.

Now that I can actually see warm weather in our future, I am getting really excited for the next few months.  As, I’m sure, every student is aware we have one month left of school.  Now, I like being in school and learning.  But I LOVE my free time and I am approaching the end of my last semester of classes before my student teaching seminar.  It’s a great feeling.

Another thing I look forward to is wearing shorts and tank tops.  Two weeks ago, I started an exercise and diet regimen.  The past polar vortex filled winter, I was very busy and VERY stressed.  Not a good combo for staying fit.  But now, I have the time and the motivation.  The first week, I lost two pounds and about an inch and I plan on losing more.  Not that I think I’m fat.  But because I want to feel comfortable in shorts, tank tops and heaven forbid, a bathing suit!!

Every year I go to Lollapalooza and I am sad to report this may be the first year in 5 years I don’t attend.  Partly because I wasn’t able to get tickets.  Thousands of people storm the website when tickets go on sale and buy as many as they can.  Then they sell them for profit.  It’s totally unfair.  Also, the lineup is not as great as previous years.  I do like Lorde a lot.  But I’m not going to pay some person $200 ($100 more than the website charges) to see her.  Instead, I plan on going to see Jack White at the Chicago Theatre on July 23rd and Luke Brian, Dierks Bentley, Lee Brice and Cole Swindell at Soldier Field on August 31st.

In addition to those concerts, I have a wedding, some birthdays, including my twenty-first birthday ;), I’m going to read for FUN, run some 5ks, enjoy some playoff hockey and White Sox baseball, and most importantly, I am going to relax.  After all, that’s what summer is about right?

I cannot wait for summer in the city!!!

 

Awesome upcoming USG events

Every week I usually like to write about some of my personal stories in the hopes to provide any student insight for everyone, BUT this week I want to talk a little about some cool opportunities for students that are going on courtesy of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG). Check them out below!
Oxfam Hunger Banquet – Today (Tuesday, April 8) at from 5:30 – 7 p.m.; Illinois Room in Student Center East

The OXFAM Hunger Banquet invites students and faculty to experience the unequal distribution of global resources firsthand by taking part in an interactive experience that will likely change the way you think of poverty and hunger as a global issue.

Upon arriving to the Illinois Room in SCE, OXFAM Hunger Banquet guests will receive a ticket at random which will assign them to an income-level group. The ticket they receive will determine where they will sit and what they will be served.

It’s free for all students and it is intended to raise awareness on the implications of poverty through educational dialogue and a theatrical experience.

For more information, please visit here.

USG Water Bottle Giveaway 

The photo you have to like on USG's Facebook - Find me!

Trying to be eco-friendly? Need more UIC gear? Or just love free stuff? Then this is your invitation to receive a free UIC USG aluminum water bottle!

How? It’s simple, complete the following steps before April 16 at 5 p.m. :

  1. Like the USG Facebook page
  2. Like this photo
  3. Find out if you won a water bottle on April 16 (There are many available, so odds of you winning are high!
  4. Pick-up your free water bottle from the USG office

Rules:

  •  Must be a currently registered undergraduate at UIC
  • MUST like both our Facebook page and the photo – you will not be eligible if you only like one or the other
  • Must show valid iCard at water bottle pick-up

USG Scavenger Hunt

Get to know more about UIC and USG in the first ever USG Scavenger Hunt. Beginning today, register you and a partner to participate in this fun and adventurous competition.

How does it work? It’s simple:

During the week of April 21-25, registered teams of two undergraduate students will partake in a week-long scavenger hunt around the UIC campus. Teams will be given clues via email and will then partake in 10 tasks until one team comes out victorious. Tasks mainly consist of UIC or USG-related activities. The winning team of two will win one iPad mini each!

Qualifications:

  • Only teams of two are accepted
  • Team members must both be currently registered undergraduates at UIC
  • Team members must submit one registration form by April 18 at 5 p.m.
  • Teams must be ready to show valid iCards and other proof at scavenger hunt kick-off event on April 21
  • It is encouraged to have a smartphone or digital camera ready for certain tasks!

Fun stuff right? Which one are you going to partake in?

Until next time…

Mike

Dr. Daniel Miltner

Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin/UIC Photo Services

Dr. Daniel Miltner, a professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Mathematics at University of Illinois at Chicago, passed away suddenly on Tuesday, March 25, 2014.

I did not have Professor Miltner as a lead teacher of any of my classes.  However, I did have the opportunity to work with him in preparation for my TAP test a few years ago.  I always had a difficult time with math and had previously taken the TAP test, passing every section but math.  Before I had a few tutoring sessions with Professor Miltner, I failed the math portion 2 times.  Needless to say, I was very discouraged.

Going into these tutoring sessions, I was nervous because, if anyone can relate to having struggles with math, not understanding math concepts can easily make you feel stupid.  I finally bit the bullet and made the commitment to seek help.

Prior to the sessions and meeting Professor Miltner, I emailed him asking for extra help and he emailed me a list of resources.  A LIST of things to look over before we discussed them in the tutoring session. I could tell he was more than willing to help.

I found out that there was an entire group of students that were attending these tutoring sessions and he sought out to help each and every one.  We were all in it together.  We were all struggling with math and needed to pass the TAP test.  He focused on the math problems we all struggled with, highlighting key concepts and easy ways to solve the problems.

Unfortunately, I didn’t pass the math portion of the TAP immediately after that.  I emailed him again and he sent me another list of resources to look into, including a reminder of the work we did together.

I finally passed the TAP test last year and I couldn’t have done it without him.

As quoted from the Dean’s office: “As a faculty member, colleague, and friend, Dr. Miltner excelled in three noteworthy ways. He demonstrated the capacity for excellent mathematics teaching and the commitment to the growth and development of aspiring teachers, particularly aspiring teachers who may have been under-prepared in mathematics, but wanted to teach in the Chicago Public Schools. Dan, a dedicated and competent teacher who embraced students’ full humanity, consistently received the highest student ratings. He won the university’s Silver Circle Award for Teaching twice. Second, Dan made clear contributions to the College of Education by serving diligently and thoughtfully on committees inside and outside of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Third, Dan applied research standards of quality in the field of mathematics education as he explored research on best practices in teacher education to promote and advance the practical consequences of the research. Without equivocation, Dan was a strong advocate for strong mathematics instruction.”-Maria Makkawi

I had no idea he passed away until I received an email from the department with information about grief counseling.  “I pass his office everyday I’m at school,” I thought.  Even though I did not know him well, his loss saddened my heart.

Last Wednesday, I took a walk past his office as I usually do and what I saw was amazing…an out pour of appreciation and love on post-its all over his office door.  It showed just how many students and colleagues lives he touched. Things like “Thanks for showing us your human side,” “I know you are smiling wherever you are. Thank you for everything!,” and “Professor Miltner, you are the definition of passion. Rest in peace.”

I didn’t leave a post-it in that moment because I could not find the right words.  I was inspired by all of the things I read and needed time to process what I wanted to say.  Here is my post-it.

Daniel Miltner Obituary

UIC NEWS

 

 

Quality Writing

To produce quality writing, you need to mess up A LOT. Draft after draft, scrap after scrap. The second component of quality writing is evaluation and review. Sometimes we don’t realize our mistakes, and that’s where your lovely friend, the peer reviewer, comes into play. While some may say getting over 100 people to look at your essay is a bit much, I actually don’t think it’s a bad idea. Besides, a larger sample size produces more accurate results. The issue with having 100 people look over your essay is what, out of all of those responses, will you listen to?

Another note, I would not consider my blog posts as “quality writing”. This is a medium to share what I feel in the moment that may transcend into the future, but for the most part are just whimsical musings that you can take or leave alone. Edits are made here and there, but this is as raw as my writing can get! The beauty of expressing yourself in a medium such as a blog is that you’re exposed to anything on the internet. Whether it be love, hatred, disgust, wonder or ambivalence–there’s some affect that results (and no, I did not make a typo, although I suppose it could work either way if you think about it).

Why the interest in talking about quality writing today? Well, I have been stuck on my medical school personal statement for a long time. My very first draft was a total disaster (of course, when writing it, I thought it was so amazing and beautiful). After having my first pre-health appointment discussing it, I was totally crushed and cried afterwards! No, the pre-health advisor wasn’t mean or anything, but it comes off as this on face value. The fact of the matter is that the pre-health advisor is there to guide you on what is ideal and steer you away from the common mistakes that people make on the personal statement or other parts of the application. Thank goodness I’ve improved my GPA (especially science) for the past 2 years…not sure how you’d fix that in a jiffy…but luckily writing is a malleable form that anyone can improve on.

The second draft I attempted was completely different from the first draft. I steered far away from anything that could be said in other parts of my application (experiences, extra-curricular activities, good GPA, etc). I focused more on my intent to pursue medicine, touching on my experience living with eczema and volunteering to teach health education with my pre-medical club. I had a lot of help from an MD/PhD student here at UIC (she’s so awesome and very encouraging) who spent a whole day helping me hammer out ideas for my personal statement. It was super fun! And that draft was nice…but I wrote it this past summer’s cycle and reading it again now gives me a nice feeling, but not the feeling that I want to feel when I read it.

What do you feel when you read something amazing? I recall listening to personal statements being read during high school at the beginning of senior year, and the best ones I felt were the ones that made me tear up inside (happy and sad tears at the same time). They made me feel like I was lifted from one place to another (a better place). However, complete separation of whatever struggle mentioned in the essay never appealed to me. And, I think that’s my issue with my current draft of the essay. I don’t touch on what I want to say about eczema and how it has affected me as person, my schoolwork or how I continually deal with it. And then, the strength that I gained from realizing these issues and applying this towards why I want to be a physician…it’s not totally there (and such little space to say so and build up that wonderful argument), but I’m going to try and hammer it out at least 10 more drafts before school ends at the Writing Center and possibly a few professors who know me well to see what they think…the drafts I had to write for my personal statement in my Fulbright application were incredible. I really think I went through over 15 drafts of that essay and multiple visits to the Writing Center (and I work there! xD). But wow, every time I read those essays to myself, I get chills. I just can’t believe I wrote something so amazing and it lasts. It really lasts. The feeling.

There’s no secret to quality writing (or really anything for that matter in this world). I think if you work hard at something, you’ll achieve greatness in all aspects of your life. Of course, the support system needs to be there. I can’t imagine doing well in a school that lacks resources or doesn’t care to see me become successful. All in all, put your best effort in, evaluate as you go, and you’ll know where and who you want to be.

Happy April! Sure doesn’t feel like it with the weather and all, but hey, I’m never surprised. Love Chicago! <3

Free from oil dependency…

Why is it that no one seems to care as much about the environment than they do other issues when the devastation to our earth is irreversible, massive extinctions of eco-systems are occurring due to our warming planet, and we’re polluting our waters with oil, over and over again? 

There was an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last Saturday when a vessel collided with a barge that was carrying millions of gallons of toxic fuel, unleashing almost 200,000 gallons of oil into Galveston Bay.  There have already been thousands of birds reportedly drenched in oil.

That’s not all.  There was another oil spill.  But this time, much closer to home.  In Whiting, Indiana, the BP refinery reported oil spilling into Lake Michigan.  SPILLING INTO LAKE MICHIGAN.  Where we get our drinking water.  They apparently “don’t know how much oil has spilled,”  but Mike Beslow, the EPA’s emergency response coordinator says there APPEARED to be no negative affects on Lake Michigan.  I don’t know.  Do you believe that?

This is getting out of hand.  Actually, it’s been out of hand.

As big as these oil spills are, they don’t even scratch the surface of the problem.

We need change.  We, ourselves, need to change.

Have you heard of the TESLA car company?  Tesla is the first company to make completely electric cars that require no gas.  Why wouldn’t everyone want that if it means it will protect our earth from catastrophic devastation?  Here is the blog posted by TESLA on the issue of Chris Christie banning the sale of TESLA in the state of New Jersey: http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/defending-innovation-and-consumer-choice-new-jersey

This past Saturday was Earth Hour (http://www.earthhour.org/) .  Millions of people across the world shut off their lights for one hour to raise awareness for our planet in need.  It’s always celebrated at Pie-eyed Pizzeria. Here are some photos of previous years.  Everyone needs to start caring more about our planet.  There are people in power who make a lot of money keeping us dependent on oil and are trying to keep companies like TESLA at bay.  It’s time we all step up and do something about it.  Please check out these websites:

http://www.earthhour.org/join-the-hour

http://audubon.org

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/25/refinery-operations-bp-whiting-idUSL1N0MM0RQ20140325

www.earthjustice.org

 

 

Quitting

I didn’t plan on writing about this, but I don’t think this thought will stop consuming me until I acknowledge it…

I’ve been thinking- what does it mean to “quit”? What are the implications? Who is at loss when this term is used? What does it all mean? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word quit is defined as “to leave; to stop working; to stop doing.” The dictionary also frequently mentions the word free as one of the alternative definitions to the term. The definition I just mentioned (and especially the word free!) are by no means negative. The first part seems incredibly neutral, and free definitely sounds positive and uplifting.

In that case, why does the word “quit” have such a negative connotation? Why does the action of leaving or walking away or moving on need to be referred to as quitting?

When you stop doing something, there is usually some reason behind it, and that reason generally comes from a place of self-reflection. Thinking about the fact that whatever you are doing or whatever is going on is no longer (or never was) beneficial to you. I’m not speaking specifically about any one thing. I just feel like this goes along with one of my previous posts about making sure you are truly happy with where you are at. Why should you continue to do something that hinders your happiness or makes you change who you are or just isn’t right for you? You shouldn’t.

And just because something was once all you ever wanted or something you thoroughly enjoyed, that isn’t to say you are making a mistake by not feeling the same way anymore and wanting to move on to something else. That means you were able to recognize that you are growing as an individual and your life is constantly changing. Stopping doing something almost always opens more doors for the future. Other opportunities arise that may not have been accessible to you before. Oftentimes, quitting isn’t quitting at all. It’s moving on at a time that is right for you. Just because you were no longer able to see something to the end doesn’t mean you are immature or lazy or whatever else you would anticipate someone to say. It means you know your limits.

All this talk doesn’t mean I think we should just float around, picking things up and abandoning them along the way, haphazardly moving through our lives. Instead, I think you should find what matters to you in the current moment of your life, run with it, and give it your all. Use your passion. Make it count and make a difference. If at some point you no longer feel it’s right (or if you notice a change in your mental/physical/emotional health and can clearly identify the cause), consider what it means to move beyond the experience or opportunity or whatever it may be. Don’t make a quick decision, though- think long and hard. Give it another day…week…whatever it takes. When the answer is 100% clear to you one way or another, act accordingly.

Obviously there are still things we need to do that we can’t just walk away from, but for the things in life on which you have a choice, utilize that ability. Make the most of it so that you don’t look back and wonder why you put yourself through something that wasn’t worth it to you at any point. Make sure you are happy.

So even if someone else may look at what you are doing as quitting, know in your head and heart that that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Because when you can make an informed, mature decision, you’ll know that you didn’t act irrationally and made the choice that made you happiest.

Enjoy the last few days of break…

As happy as a Chinese girl learning Polish can be

Let’s break this past week down, shall we?

  1. Second exam of anatomy and physiology is over.
  2. Round two of MCAT is over.
  3. Submission of abstracts for RARE and SRF are sent.
  4. Spring break is here (although I am making up my hours missed in the research lab and scribing effectively).

I’m not sure what to feel at the moment, whether I should be relieved or freaking out. I won’t find out about my MCAT score for another month, and even if I felt it went OK, I don’t want to give my hopes up like last year. I did surprisingly well on the anatomy and physiology exam, even though the whole time I was going blank on less than half of the questions and I was worried I was going to miss over 10 questions! Phew. I still have to wait on my lab exam, but hopefully I didn’t miss too many. I’m preparing for my research presentation at the UIC Student Research Forum as well as Recognition for Achievement, Research and Excellence in the Kinesiology and Nutrition department (although I am technically part of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, but I guess my minor in human nutrition counts). Need to prep that poster up! I was also nominated to go to Posters Under the Dome where a select few undergraduates can present their research in Springfield, Illinois. I’m excited to sign up and go, but I would have to reschedule my final exam in BIOS 221 if I do since I’d be gone the whole day. I need to think about it a little more…

There’s technically only a little over a month until I graduate. It’s crazy how fast four years past! I still feel like I just got here, haha. Well, I won’t get mushy here yet. Perhaps closer to the end of the semester I will. I’m waiting to hear back from the Fulbright committee in Taiwan if I have been offered a scholarship. I probably won’t hear back until the end of April, the same time that I will hear back about my MCAT score! It’ll either be a yay-yay, yay-nay, or nay-nay day. I’ll keep you posted on the exact details.

On another note, I’ve been having a wonderful time learning Polish again. I can’t explain how much of a relief it is to go from reviewing kinetic and thermodynamic control of organic molecules for the MCAT to running through the layers of vessels and remembering the differences between large and small arteries or veins…and then peeking at my calendar for my list of to do’s with “oh man I still have Polish homework”, but then feel the rush of actually doing the homework and listening to the CDs that come with the textbook and end up saying “OK, one more time because I really want to know what they’re saying…” to inadvertently being all giddy when good grammar clicks in my head. It’s so fulfilling, and my advice to those who’ve always wanted to learn another language and have not had the chance to, it’s never too late! Never in a million years would I think that I would learn another language such as Polish. Spanish was an easy choice for most to choose, and while I will most likely have to learn it in the future, I didn’t have to learn Polish by any means. I already fulfilled my language credit with Mandarin (it’s a shame they do not have upper level language courses beyond 104 or 112!), but I was without the experience of learning an entirely foreign, new language. And how could I leave college without that experience?

I think about what it means to have a liberal arts education, and while it may or may not prepare one for the world ahead, it at least does its best to do so. I know many who pursue a liberal arts education do not find their career coming right out of college. Why? Well, it’s hard to translate philosophy, English or another humanities major into terms that employers can understand (employers, feel free to butt in with your own opinion on the issue). Apparently, and this is what I have gleaned from my peers, two things come into mind for the typical student pursuing liberal arts major: teaching and law. It boggles me, but after considering what we do in those classes, it makes total sense.

What is the skill that we are exercising in these classes? Critical thinking is the main one, and the second is reading and writing. Anything else? When I think about my “liberal arts education”, it’s a lot of the former with a vast amount of memorization of scientific facts and concepts. Do we learn to apply it here in college? I’ll be honest; I don’t think so. Until I met the MCAT, I did not understand what “application” really meant. The crash course with Kaplan helped, and my extra reading with the Berkeley Review assisted in formulating this idea, but in my actual classes? I can’t recall a time. Perhaps this is one of the cons of public education and the reason most private universities are labeled as “top universities”. The approaches are different. Here, we memorize like there’s no tomorrow and we cram like there’s no tomorrow. Over there (some magical place in a private institution), they read, apply and synthesize information. In other words, those students think much differently on many levels compared to how most students here think. And maybe this different idea of thinking is distinctly evident in the job market post-college.

Sometimes I feel very “one path-ed” in my way of approaching problems, and that’s not going to make me stand out once I’m out there in the real world. Of course, I’m thankful for being insane and forcing myself into as many uncomfortable situations as possible to see how I would do and react (so that the next time it ever happened, I would know what to do or at least have a mediator). So, for the time being, I’ll be all right. For my peers and those still in school? I want to explore more options for them. Once you’re out of school, it’s very difficult to decide to change everything you ever knew about yourself and your goals, but it’s such a common blockade for people to go through because they didn’t understand while they were in college at the time what they wanted to do.

Or rather, they had their life all planned out. They’d go to school, get a job right away or get into graduate school and then get married, have kids and life a happy life with a nice standard of living than the one you were born into. And then, maybe senior year of college of post-college things instantly changed. You had to pay for your own rent, worry about paying off your college debt, budget for food and/or adjusting your resume and cover letters for every job opening you saw online. Shamed and did not want to ask for help, a hole was dug and anxiety built up. It’s crazy how typical this scenario is, and I wonder what the equivalent of this is like in other countries. I remember I was listening to my Mandarin language instructor here at UIC discuss what education is like in Germany. Apparently this is how it works: anyone can attend any class they want. For the class that they actually want to count towards credit, they take the exams accordingly and pass or fail them. It is not atypical to be an undergraduate student for eight years. EIGHT YEARS! I think FAFSA is available for a maximum of 5-6 years or something like that. I don’t know what I would do without governmental aid in paying for my education. I probably wouldn’t even go to college because it’s too expensive.

Have I gained more than what I have lost? I definitely think so. I suppose I can thank my uneventful high school experience as playing a role in most of what actions I took in college. I did sports, played instruments and studied, but it didn’t help me discover myself or challenge me as college did. While the quality of education was immensely different, there were pros and cons to all methods. In the end, college really is what you make of it, and if I was a freshman I’d probably do exactly what I did coming in. As for those who are past this stage and off to search for the next chapter in their lives with no clue where to go, perhaps they would want to return to school and do something different. The cons of going back to school may seem to outweigh the pros at first glance, but I personally think going back to school would open many doors and networks that were unavailable during a time that one is unattached to a university or academic resource. Then again, not sure what Master’s degrees can do for some people who may actually want to get PhD’s and they just don’t know it. There’s a lot of researching to do, but go with your gut and roll with the punches because this is life and we’re in it together.

Enjoy your spring break, UIC! One more month until summer (and that usually means really great weather!). I’m pretty psyched.

Never a dull moment

Busy, busy, busy.  That’s my life.  I don’t know if this semester is easier or I am used to having very little (and I mean VERY little) free time. It’s hard to believe this week is my last week of practicum.  I’ve been looking forward to this for EVER! But when we were on a bus coming back from our field trip, I told a couple of the students it was my last week, they got pretty upset.  The rest of the ride they just laid their heads on me.  Although, they could have been exhausted from me dragging them all around the Kohl Children’s Museum all day.  (I’ll go with they were sad because I’m leaving). On the upside, when practicum is over, I can work out every morning!!!

This week is also when Lollapalooza tickets go on sale.  Already? I’m still paying off LAST years Lolla tickets!!!  As much as I love the whole 3-day experience, I don’t think I can afford it this year.  Also, I’m not that into the headliners that have been announced.

I like Kings of Leon, but I’ve seen them multiple times already and I’m not sure that they have come out with a ton of new stuff recently, either.

Lollapalooza 2013

I’d see Eminem but it’s definitely not something I’ll be upset about missing.

Arctic Monkeys, they’re ok.

Skrillex….yea…I don’t really listen to techno or dubstep or whatever kind of music he makes.

Moving on…St. Pattys was fun! I had a blast with my cousin and my boyfriend.  We went to The Kerryman, Glascotts, and OF COURSE Pie-eyed Pizzeria!
Lastly, this week my favorite little guy in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD is turning 3!!!! I can’t believe it! I started nannying him when he was just 4-5 months old.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAM!! I love you stinker!

 

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