Saturday, April 29, 2017

Embracing Foolery

April Community Service Hours: 4
Spring Community Service Hours: 25
2016 - 2017 Academic Year Service Hours: 50.75

Was I a fool
To give my heart away
Was I a fool
To love a place I cannot stay
Was I a fool
For committing all of me
Was I a fool
For falling so freely
Standing in these familiar streets
Bidding farewell is so bittersweet
Because living in NOLA, studying pharmacology
Meant more than just earning another degree
From neuro, cardiac, and techniques in the laboratory
To renal, kinetics, and how replication remains error free
I am so in awe of our biology
Of this miracle that we simply call a body
How privileged I am to pursue this field
How much power this knowledge does wield
For upon this foundation I’ll go on to build
All my future clinical skills
So thank you, Tulane, for this wondrous year
Because of you, my path is finally clear
If this makes me a fool, then let me be
For I think you too agree
That this year has been too good to me
So I’m embracing this fabulous foolery

Friday, March 31, 2017

Dichotomy of Economy

In today’s world of economy
There is a startling dichotomy
Of the have’s and the have-not’s
Of those with little and those with lots
There’s those who stress over college tuition
And those who dream of college admission
There’s those who lament their tax bracket is too high
And those who are just barely getting by
There’s those who dispose of seasonal fashion
And those who depend on government ration
There’s those whose diamonds come from stocks
And those who propose with scavenged rocks
There’s those who object to pricey healthcare
And those who wait in emergency room chairs
There’s those who discard half their plate
Because, well, they’re conscious of their weight
But the food they’ve wasted so carelessly
Could’ve easily fed a family

So let us rid ourselves of all undue stress
There’ll always be those with more and those with less
Instead take a moment and appreciate
Pause to evaluate those gifts innate
The ones that create lasting impressions
Unlike our worldly possessions
Our inner self that makes us who we are
Stands apart from our clothes and our car
It proudly proclaims our identities
Without need of any amenities
Let us be more than what we own
And delight in the simple stones

Monday, March 20, 2017

Making Strides

“Hey, you coming in today?”
            Not recognizing the number, I asked “Who is this?”
            “Oh, sorry, Marjorie. Me and Jordan were wondering.”
            Marjorie! I’d met Jordan’s friend recently, who had taken the initiative and requested a tutor. Her text signified, at least to me, that I was making progress on a personal level. Warmth spread through me in waves, triggered by the knowledge that our sessions were not only needed but wanted. I replied back promising to show up next week.
            A large portion of my volunteering at Sci High, outside the academic aspect, lay in building a relationship with my students. More than helping them pass a class, my goal was to serve as a role model and kindle a love for learning. By applying classroom material to everyday activities, I emphasize that learning is not confined to the walls of their high school but is a lifelong pursuit. Slowly, they have begun to discuss their family lives, interests, and future plans such as college aspirations. This text, innocuous at first glance, exemplifies the comfort level they now feel, a sought-after achievement on my part.
            “Marjorie? I’ll see you both tomorrow.”

March community service hours: 6

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Red Cross Disaster Relief

I don’t think reading and watching the news reports adequately prepared me for the sobering sight that greeted us as we drove through New Orleans East, the area most impacted by the recent tornadoes. Sheared telephone poles, tangled wires, bent metal, and felled trees were the common denominators between residential homes, gas stations and local businesses. The affected zones, though modest in size, suffered catastrophic damage. It was interesting to note that both intact and completely demolished structures stood side by side, hinting at the non-linear paths the tornadoes must’ve taken. We soon arrived at an intersection guarded by armed National Guard officers in charge of loot prevention, who immediately waved us through upon seeing the Red Cross logo emblazoned on both sides of our vehicle. As part of the disaster assessment team, our responsibility was to determine the degree of damage to each home in our assigned sectors. I was incredibly fortunate that Kurt, our crew leader, was a seasoned disaster relief responder who explained things I never thought to ask, thereby enriching my experience immeasurably.
            Thankfully, the streets we canvassed were in the penumbra, and as such they were spared from tangible loss. Still, I was awed by the morale the residents exhibited, each waving and smiling as we passed by. How terrifying it must’ve been to watch the winds tear through neighboring streets so mercilessly, wondering if your home was next! Even more humbling are the combined efforts of the Red Cross, FEMA and local groups all working altruistically towards the common goal of restoration, whether it be through damage assessment, repairs or meal provisions. It struck me anew that though New Orleans is no stranger to natural disasters, its inhabitants have again rebounded with remarkable vigor. Amidst houses on shifted foundations, rubble that was once a dwelling, and cars with shattered windows shines an indomitable spirit that is New Orleans, as evidenced by the unparalleled willingness of workers and volunteers alike to take rebuilding to task. What an absolute honor it was to partake in the relief efforts, to give back in my small way to this exceptional community.

February community service hours: 13

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Caught Unaware

The initial drops were so gentle, so non-threatening that I decided against opening my umbrella. No thoughts were given to the darkening skies as I hurried from Sci High, where I’d been volunteering that morning, towards uptown Tulane campus, where I planned on catching the shuttle back to Deming Pavilion. The sudden torrential downpour came without warning so that by the time my slippery fingers successfully held the apparatus aloft, I was already drenched. Thunder and lightning became my companions, their rumbling voices taunting my legs to move faster despite the rutted walkways. My thoughts jumbled, and I wondered inanely if one was supposed to use an umbrella during lightning. Surely I would be struck? Or did that only apply to standing beneath a tree? My distress was compounded when tornado warnings from the Tulane emergency notification system sent incessant texts, instructing me to not leave class. Then came the phone calls.
“A tornado warning has been issued in your area, please remain indoors…”
I hung up each time. Frustrated, panicked, my only goal was to return to campus. When I finally arrived at my stop, I was informed that shuttle service was temporarily cancelled and given a number to call in two hours to check on the status. By this time, I wondered at my decision just hours ago to tutor. I marveled at the clear sunny skies of yesterday. I longed for dry clothes.
“Hey, we see you standing out here, would you like to come seek shelter with us?”
I turned to see a lady holding open the door to the Student Success office. Seek shelter? Is this for real?
“Exactly how serious is this tornado?” I asked as I followed her inside, where I was immediately taken to the back of the building to be with others who appeared to have also been caught unaware.
I discovered later, in my warm and dry room, that while my area was spared, others had not been so fortunate. Reports differ between the exact number of tornadoes that had touched down, but eight seemed to be pretty consistent. It saddened me to hear that the Ninth Ward, the neighborhood previously pummeled by Katrina, again suffered devastating damage. Thankfully, there were relatively few injuries and no loss of life.
Between answering concerned inquiries from families and friends and reassuring them of my well-being, I took a long hot shower, eradicating the chill from my bones. Then, at last, came blessed relief in the form of hanging up my wet clothes and putting away the umbrella that—surprisingly—survived the strong winds.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The In-Between

She greeted me with a smile, and that was all the encouragement I needed. Jordan and I easily slipped back into our routine of solving problems together, this time regarding the kinetics of chemical reactions. As it is one of my favorite topics, I tried to convey that same enjoyment to her. Admittedly, however, it is not the most intuitive, so we went through many examples. It was exceedingly pleasing to observe her enthusiasm grow proportionally to the ease with which she solved them.
            While elucidating this lesson, something unexpected struck. I had been explaining that though we may know a chemical reaction and even its equilibrium state, we are unable to determine the rate at which it had occurred with the equation as our sole informant. The chemical reaction given involves only the overall reactants and products, leaving out the intermediates in between. This is remarkably similar to all our paths. We may know our general direction, but it is impossible to predict the journeys each of us will take. I had expected to streamline from college to medical school, but here I am, somewhere I’d never imagined. And this journey has been so enriching, so full of experiences that I would never give up. I hope that as each of us continues down our respective paths, we keep in mind that each step is for a reason, and each turn holds a meaning. Because, unlike chemical reactions, the beginning and the end for us bear no significance without the middle.

January community service hours: 2

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tutee Turned Tutor

November Community Service Hours: 7.25
Fall Semester Community Service Hours: 25.75

“Okay, so this is what you do.”
Amused, I watched my student as she assumed an authoritative air, taking on the role of a teacher. I had asked her to explain acids and bases to another student and the transformation was immediate. Encouraged by my occasional nods of agreement, her confidence soared in her knowledge, which has been my goal all along. 
Jordan has been the one constant student since my first day at SciHigh so I feel personally invested in her academic performance. She has blossomed from a largely uninterested pupil to now an eager teacher. I love seeing her excitement, especially when she discovered the other student asked the same questions Jordan herself had asked me moments earlier. Our friendship has grown to the point where she is comfortable asking so-called dumb questions, which I reassured her were actually fundamental to the building blocks of chemistry and stressed the importance of laying a solid foundation in all areas for her future studies.
As a pre-medical student, I have always viewed tutoring as a side activity, failing to acknowledge the similarities to medicine. However, I am fast discovering how fulfilling it is to forge a longitudinal relationship with Jordan. It is rewarding to monitor her progress and celebrate achievements together, much like the satisfaction I derived as a scribe, when I followed patients throughout their hospital stays and beyond. This is what I will be searching for as I pursue a career in medicine; to be a friend, counselor and confidante to my patients and their families. I cannot think of a greater source of contentment than to continue being a role model by showing others this is what I do.