Posts by author:


I knew going into the week after spring break that it was going to be the “Face the To-Do List I was Supposed to Tackle During Spring Break Week” week. Does that make sense? However I write it though, the week was, in a word, rough. And I loved it for that. Because weeks that make me feel super busy also make me feel super accomplished when I come out of them alive and in one piece. So yes, Physics Test Number Three, which I took the Wednesday night after break, was maddening and challenging (in other words…I genuinely enjoyed it, but my grade won’t) and I probably failed it. But like I texted my dad right after I took it, “I’ve just come to expect really hard exams now. They don’t really even phase me anymore.” (And neither does scoring less than a…50%…on said hard exams.). To which he responded, “I think you’re ready for Rolla :-) !” (Yes, he did type the smiley face because he claims he can’t get Emojis.)

Wait. Wuuuuut?

Oh yeah, did I mention that the moment I walked through the door to my house for my break, I kid you not, dad told me exactly how he felt about me pursuing chemistry? That I shouldn’t do it? That it’s not the best decision? That I need to do something else? (I’m so glad we decided to have this talk, wuuut, seven weeks before I graduate?)

I was angry with him. I cried about it. Dad and his stupid engineering mind-set* (*See definition at the end of post.)! Why did he have to be so disgustingly practical about everything? Why did he spend every moment of his spare time on his iPad, researching careers and salaries in chemistry to build his argument as to why I shouldn’t get a PhD or even a second undergraduate degree in it? Oh yeah, I was pretty mad all break. And then that Friday I went to UMSL and met with the chair of the chemistry department about completing my second degree there. And then I understood where dad was coming from this whole time. And, as of that Friday, I’ve had a nervous pit in my stomach, wondering how I’m going to make this decision in the amount of time I have to make it.

To get a good job in chemistry, I would do my second undergraduate degree (two years) before launching myself into a PhD program (five years). That’s seven more years of school total. Kids, to put things in perspective, that’s like high school and college combined practically. I love, love, love school and learning and studying (otherwise I wouldn’t do it so obsessively), but that’s a lot, even for me! And as dad so bluntly put it the moment I threw my backpack down when I got home that day,

“Then what?”

His idea: Take two and a half years or so to get my second undergrad degree in engineering at Rolla.

My take on his idea: Environmental Engineering with an emphasis in Environmental Chemistry. It seems like a natural fit for me…Right?

Hm. Maybe so. Next week dad and I are going to spend some quality time together as we make the trek down to Rolla to check out their program. Like he texted me yesterday, “I think you’re going to like what you hear.”

Hmmmmm…excited and nervous to see where this new road takes me…!


En·gi·neer·ing mind-set: Noun: A very real personality trait that one knows best/everything about everything, simply because he or she holds a degree of some sort in the field of engineering, or is currently pursuing a degree in the field.


• Lately I’ve been especially obnoxious and smarty-pants-ish. I think I’ve inherited dad’s engineering mind-set. (FACT.)



Under Pressure.

by Carly on March 7, 2014

in Academics,College Life

Tuesday night as I was at the checkout counter at Whole Foods, the cashier asked me if I had any exciting plans for the rest of the evening. Naturally, I did:

“Meh, just a ton of homework,” I complained.

“Oh yeah, it’s getting to be about midterm-time, isn’t it?” said he.

Indeed. It. Is.

The past week has been one of those kinds of weeks. You know, the kind where you stay up late doing homework with friends and forget to set your alarm for the next morning and show up to track practice half an hour late (sorry, Coach). Or where you put off doing calculus homework until 10:00 the night before it’s due because you’ve been working on other stuff all day, only to sit there and weep a little and think, “I DON’T REMEMBER HOW TO DO THIS INTEGRAL AT ALL” (when really you do because you just learned it last semester in calc 2). Or where you realize that listening to your physics lab partner who told you last week in lab, “Oh, we can just make up numbers for that part of the lab and do the calculations at home” was a bad, bad idea.

If you’re in this position as well, hang in there! Spring break is right around the corner…I promise!

Have a lovely weekend, kids!



This week I began a new adventure serving as an Assistant Coach for the Girls on the Run program! A few weeks ago, when I got my curriculum binder that details all of the lessons that we cover during each practice, it made me realize something: if Girls on the Run is a program that aims to empower these girls to be the best versions of themselves they can be, who am I to be a role model to them when I’m constantly beating myself up?

This evening I took my second physics test. Before I left for class, I had kind of a nervous belly. I had studied. I had practiced and practiced doing these problems so much that I’ve actually—I kid you not—started having dreams this semester about math. I LEARNED the content, inside and out. And when the test was passed out and Mr. Know-It-All-Whom-I-Can’t-Stand laughed and said, “Oh, I’ll finish this really fast!” because it was one sheet, front and back (the front was multiple choice), it hit me: I was ready. I was capable. I could do it.

And I did. I found myself totally engrossed in the word problems, getting more excited every second as it dawned on me that I was finally turning into the problem-solver I so desperately wanted to be last semester when I was trying to get through Quant. I was actually enjoying myself, using the known quantities to solve for my unknowns (my mom said I was always good at puzzles when I was little…so fun!). But when the fun came to an end, I stood, stapled the exam, handed it in, and walked out the door to wait in the hall.

Mr. Know-It-All-Whom-I-Can’t-Stand was still working. I had finished first, but I felt good.

And as the rest of those Smarty, Soon-to-Be-Engineer-Boys finished up and came out to join me in the hall, I found myself holding my own as we argued about how to solve each of the problems on the test. I think the best part was when one of them turned away as I was explaining how I got a certain answer and admitted, “Yeah. You’re probably right.”

Take. That. Boys!!

There are days when I wonder what I’ve gotten myself into with this baloney. There are days when I compare myself to others and tear myself down:

“I’m not as smart as the boys in my physics class.”

“I’m not fast enough to call myself a Real Collegiate Runner.”

“I can’t handle the pressure of being a chemist.”

“I’m a mess 99% of the time.”

Blah. Blah. Blah. Why? Why do I tell myself these things? Why not replace those lies with the truth? If anything, this school year has taught me:

That I can handle the Hardest Chemistry Teacher Ever (who will, on the last day of the final exam, buy me a Maryville t-shirt from the bookstore. True story…I wore it today!).

That I can handle hanging with the Engineering Boys (and that I can solve problems just as well as they can!).

That I can handle working independently.

That I can handle staying at school on the weekends for practice and meets because I love it here with my teammates.

That I can handle running in a race against girls who have been running competitively since middle school.

That, while this isn’t by any means easy, I am capable. I can handle this.

I’m sure there are a million quotes out there that would be suitable to conclude this post, but I think this video is by far the BEST WAY to.

Enjoy the rest of your week, everyone! And remember: when it gets tough, “You got this!”



On Monday I had the pleasure of turning my hands blue (Okay, this is totally an exaggeration, but still.). Also on Monday, I had the real pleasure of calculating my engineering physics grade after receiving my very first graded physics exam. Then Wednesday I spent 3 hours with the engineering physics tutor, before going to lab and letting my soon-to-be-an-engineering-major lab partner boss me around.

The other night, after I calculated my grade, I called up my Father, and he told me the story that I always like to hear in times like these, the one about him, my age, studying mechanical engineering down at Rolla. He told me once over break, after I got my Quant Grade back (C+…I survived…BAM), how the average GPA for guys there was, well, a C. And how they were pretty much okay with it because the stuff they were studying wasn’t exactly easy. During my phone chat with him a few nights ago, he once again told me about those Rolla days, and even though I was crying about my horrible, atrocious physics grade, I started feeling a lot better. As Father would say, I’ve been punched in the nose a few times this year, getting into these upper-level chemistry and math classes, and next year isn’t going to be any easier (helllllooo P-Chem!). And while for the past two weeks I’ve been really questioning why in the world I thought pursuing a chemistry degree next year would be “fun” or what kind of job I will get with said degree, I think I’m in the right place. I may spill indicator all over the place and turn my hands blue. I may have to get tutored in the hard classes. I may have to deal with being one of two girls in a physics class off campus with a bunch of engineering guys with big egos (For the record, though, my partner couldn’t remember how to say the word “Meniscus.” Take that!). I may have to settle with knowing that I worked my butt off and still got a C.

But I realized, when Dr. Paine-Saunders today handed me my Quant Lab notebook that Dr. Spudich had given her to return to me from last semester after a run-in with her on the Maryville campus, that all of the stupidity that I put up with this week on my way to becoming a real-live chemist (?) is worth it. Yes, holding my good old Quant Notebook in my hands made me remember how much my mind was blown every time by Dr. Spudich’s ability to figure out why one of our instruments was malfunctioning in lab, or every time I left a lecture. I may not have gotten the best grade in Quant by my old standards (and the same will most definitely be said about physics!), but I feel like I’m really learning this stuff and being challenged and inspired in new and exciting ways. And I really think that maybe I want to someday have some random college student write a blog post about me saying, “She was the toughest professor I had, but man, I learned a lot and for that reason, I think chemistry is pretty cool!” I want to inspire people with my knowledge, too. I want to challenge people. I want to be the one who knows how to fix the Mini Gas Chromatographs when they aren’t working. I don’t want to work in a lab in the chemical industry per se, but teaching…maybe that’s what I’ll do! Over the past few weeks, I’ve felt sheer admiration for all of the awesome instructors I’ve met since changing majors, from Dr. Bookstaver who told me to go into chemistry, from all three of my calculus teachers, to Dr. Spudich, to all of my biology teachers like Dr. Paine-Saunders. Having students admire and look up to me, too…that would be totally, totally, cool (I’m talking zero degrees Kelvin here, that’s how cool.)!

Who inspired you to take the path you’re on? What keeps you going when the courses get tough?

Have a spectacular weekend everyone!



A Love Letter to Track & Field.

by Carly February 5, 2014

Last weekend I found myself watching excitedly as super speedy, super fit, super awesome runners ran circles around me at my very first indoor track meet, which I attended as a spectator thanks to a never-ending foot injury that’s kept me from running since October. Anyhow, I personally enjoy just going and watching meets because [...]

Read the full post →

The Feeling When It All Works Out

by Carly December 2, 2013

I’ve often found myself this semester asking myself what I did to deserve all of the things I’ve been blessed with. Why am I healthy, with legs and lungs that allow me to run—the one thing that makes me so stupidly happy? Why does my dad still give me money to buy groceries at (DON’T [...]

Read the full post →

…I’m Going to See Where it Leads.

by Carly November 18, 2013

Don’t worry! I’m alive and well. It’s been a crazy semester, no doubt, but hands down it’s been the best of my undergrad career. I have so much to talk about! But here’s a quick run-down on the important things that have happened this semester: 1.) I finally, finally joined the cross country and track [...]

Read the full post →

I’ve Been Holding On…

by Carly July 30, 2013

It never fails to amaze me just how much I can change over the course of a semester at school. And I’ve come to find that it’s not necessarily the stuff I spend eight hours reading in a textbook that ends up sticking with me, because it’s usually (ahem, pretty much always) not. As cliché [...]

Read the full post →

I Know You Don’t Get a Chance to Take a Break This Often…

by Carly July 8, 2013

Well, I guess it’s no secret that I never got a science internship this summer. Okay, I applied to, what, two? But I must admit, I think deep down inside, I was hoping I wouldn’t be accepted into one all along. I didn’t want to live in St. Louis all summer. I didn’t want an [...]

Read the full post →

Summer Comes…

by Carly June 21, 2013

Considering the fact that I’ve spent so much time this summer stressing about the future, I find it odd that suddenly my worries have evaporated, leaving behind nothing but this odd mix of new feelings, ones like peacefulness and acceptance and hope and excitement, the same ones I used to have when I thought about [...]

Read the full post →

Students writing for Real Life at Fontbonne are paid a small fee for each post by the university.