Tag Archives: Biology

A Learning Experience

With finals coming up, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the courses I’ve taken this past semester. I’ve learned so much in all my classes, but one course in particular comes to mind. This class has been a challenge for me and has required me to put in a lot of effort. However, this specific course has increased my knowledge greatly in the subject. So what class is it? My biology class.

I have never been a fan of science and have always struggled with it, even in high school. So naturally, I was worried about taking a science class. I had the option of choosing between a chemistry course, biology course, and physical science course. I chose biology because I thought it would be the most interesting of the three sciences and I also thought that it would be the easiest.

While I’m happy I chose to take biology, I’m not getting through it without some late night study sessions and extra test prep in order to get me the grade I’m happy with. My biology course has taught me so much, even though I probably won’t use any of the concepts in my future career as an accountant. I’ve learned about what animal cells are composed of, how cellular respiration works, the process of Mitosis, and so much more. I can elaborate on each of those topics and that has allowed me to hold conversations with some of my more “sciencey” friends.

Even though I dread science and especially my biology class, the information I’ve learned has allowed me to be a more well-rounded individual and I am grateful for that.

This Is It.

I’ve been thinking about what to say in my final Fontbonne blog for some time now. I’ve been trying to think of witty comments or good advice to give to current and incoming students. But, for the first time, I think I’ll just make it short and sweet.

These past four years have definitely been an adventure. I’ve cried and laughed. I’ve felt like I was on top of the world and stuck under a bunch of rocks. I’ve experienced triumphs and tribulations. The best advice I can offer to students at this point is to keep doing what you’re doing no matter what anyone else thinks. Go with what your heart tells you, even if everyone seems to be against you. You and only you know what’s best for you, even if others laugh and think you’re crazy.

So where will I go after graduation? Well, I’ll be working all summer, and then I’ll start my graduate education at Saint Louis University in the Core Biomedical Sciences Program offered through the School of Medicine. My goal is to join one of the many Molecular Microbiology and Immunology research labs because microbiology is, without a doubt, my biggest life passion.

Thanks for reading my blogs over these past four years and for following me on my life journey.

“Forget regret, or life is yours to miss. No other road, no other way, no day but today.”

Life in Fast Forward

I’ve been thinking a lot about graduation lately. Perhaps that’s because I now have less than a month until the big day. My final undergrad to-do list is quickly dwindling, and every project, quiz, paper, or test that I’m finishing is becoming one of my last of my undergrad career.

My planner is definitely filling up with important dates. Next week, I’ll be seeing my last required play for my Advanced Acting class, and then it’ll be time for the Fontbonne Honors Convocation, the Phi Kappa Phi Induction Ceremony, and, one of my favorite evenings of the year, Zoo Friends’ Day at the Saint Louis Zoo. (Yep, I’ve been a proud member of the Zoo since before I could even talk!)

I finally feel like everything is starting to fall into place and like all of the hard work and tears I put into my biology degree are paying off. Who really knows where I’ll be in a year, two years, or ten years from now? I’m beginning to realize that, as long as I truly dedicate myself to learning more and yearning to perfect my lab techniques, I’ll be alright in the end.

Humana Festival Trip in Pictures

Below are some of my favorite pictures from my Special Topics theatre course focused on the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, Kentucky. This was definitely a trip to remember!

Stopping to take a lunch break at an Amish buffet with one of my roommates, Angela, while on the road to Kentucky. It surely is windy in Indiana!

The outside of the Actors Theatre of Louisville, where we saw five plays and attended a few workshops in just over a day’s time.

Taking a riverside walk in between shows. (And nope, that’s not the Mississippi – it’s the Ohio.)

My new favorite restaurant, the Down One Bourbon Bar. It has a 1920s theme combined with British elements.

Taking a selfie with a virus model at the Kentucky Science Center. Hey, I’m a biology major – what do you expect?!

Once a Cards fan, always a Cards fan. Taking a picture with Cardinal legend Lou Brock right after receiving my Louisville Slugger Museum bat, thereby ending the factory tour.

Choosing My Major, My Way of Life

I just about shocked everyone when I, as a junior in high school taking excess honors and college credit English and Spanish courses, said that I was going to major in biology. A few people laughed. A few people thought I was crazy. And some thought I’d never make it through.

And now, it’s just over two months until I receive my BS degree in biotechnology and physiology.

Biology wasn’t always easy for me. There were days that I considered quitting. There were days when I literally fell asleep in my textbooks. There were days when I thought I’d never be able to understand the mind-blowing concepts or work independently in a lab. Now, however, I’m technically finished with all of my biology course requirements, and I’m proving to myself a little at a time that I can work independently in a laboratory setting because, well, I am working in one for half of the work week. Don’t get me wrong – there are still days that I come home wondering if I’ll ever be able to “make it big” and leave my mark on science – but I’m realizing that making that bold decision to major in biology was well worth it.

What advice would I give someone who is thinking about going into biology? In short, biology isn’t just a program or a degree – it truly is a way of life. If you’re interested in learning about the inner workings of life, if you choose to study biology, and if you’re anything like me, your life will be made so much fuller by studying biology.

A Love Letter to Chemistry.

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!


The Balancing Act

I’ve recently come to the hypothesis that every college student is a circus performer. That is, while in college, one is balancing school, work, friends, family, and extracurricular activities. Up until this year, biology courses have dictated my life, meaning that my schedule was set. I’d go to school during the weekdays, come home to read countless chapters and finish assignments until I fell asleep (either in my books or in my bed – whichever was closer at the time), and spend the weekends catching up and attempting to get ahead.

However, this year is different. I’ve finished all of my required biology courses, so you’d think it’d get easier to balance out my schedule. Wrong! I’m actually finding it harder to do so. I’m working a lot more this year than I ever did before, so that means that most of my free time at school is devoted to tutoring and that I spend half of my weekdays in the lab, where it’s hard (sometimes nearly impossible) to get any studying or reviewing done, even during lunch breaks. I’ve been getting home later in the evenings due to work and classes, so, by the time I get home, it seems pointless to crack a book since I’ll literally just fall asleep as soon as I open it. Therefore, my homework is, once again, pushed off to the weekends.

Do I like this new balancing act? It goes both ways. I love having the opportunities to tutor and work in the lab more, which is something that the past three years didn’t give me a lot of time to do. And I am finding that I have more free time on the weekends to catch up on taped television shows. On the other hand, though, I miss the order and schedule that enveloped my life for the past three years. I’m definitely a scheduler – you should see my planner – so I miss knowing exactly how every day would be. I guess this year is a good experience in spontaneity, though it’s hard figuring out how to spontaneously plan out my days.

Life without Biology

I can’t imagine my life without influences from the hard sciences, specifically from biology. However, this semester, I have but one biology course, which is an independent study course that, though awesome in itself, isn’t exactly what I would consider to be exactly on track with my career intents.

If you’ve read my previous blogs of the semester, you’ll already know that I’m just spending this semester taking a few elective independent study courses and finishing up my theatre minor. (You see, I’m one of those people that will stop at nothing to do what I said I was going to do. Completing biotechnology? Check. Completing physiology? Check. Completing my chemistry minor? Check. Completing Spanish proficiency? Check. The only “check” I have yet to issue is to the question of finishing my theatre minor, which I will have done by the end of the semester.)

All of that being said, however, I have to add that I miss the constant challenge of balancing eighteen (or more) hours of all science courses. I’ve grown accustomed to reading through dense textbooks; instead, I’m currently reading through plays left and right. Do I love plays? Most definitely! It’s just a different challenge, something that is harder for me to get used to than I initially anticipated.

This semester, though, is providing me with other exciting opportunities. I was able to catch up with a good friend over a two-hour lunch at Steak ‘n’ Shake over the weekend. I’m devoting a lot more time to working in my internship lab, and I’m also continuing my work as a Fontbonne peer tutor for biology. All in all, life is good, except for the fact that I truly miss the biology classes that I used to have.

“Back to School” for the Last Time

This is my last semester at Fontbonne. Wow. Though it feels like I’ve been waiting for years to be able to say that, actually saying it feels strange.

I finished all of my courses required for my various biology programs in December, so now I’m just finishing up my theatre minor and taking a couple of independent study courses with two of my favorite Fontbonne professors. In addition, I’ll continue working for the Kinkel Center as a peer tutor for biology courses, and I’ll continue interning in my microbiology lab.

I’d be the first to say that this blog’s title may seem contradictory, since I’m hoping to go “back to school.” I’ve had aspirations to continue with my education at the graduate level ever since my freshman year at Fontbonne when one of my professors told me I’d need a graduate degree in order to pursue science and, in particular, biomedical research in the way that I want to. As of right now, however, I have no idea where I’m going or which type of degree I’ll be pursuing. For someone who’s as much of a planner as me, not knowing such important life details can begin to feel unbearable at times.

All of that aside, however, I’m hoping to have a relatively peaceful last semester at Fontbonne before I enter graduate school and the “real world.” Welcome back, Griffins, and a good semester to all.

7/8 of the Way There

The grades are now all in. The semester is officially over. And I have only one semester left at Fontbonne University.

This semester was definitely different for me in many, many ways. First of all, I only had classes two days per week, and I spent the other days of the week interning in a microbiology lab off campus and working on the seemingly-endless process of graduate school admissions, scholarship, and fellowship applications. Secondly, I only had one “real,” required-for-my-degree biology course. This was very strange for me since my semesters are generally chock full of science courses of all types, ranging from lab research to lectures. Finally, this semester was different for me because many of the people I’ve grown to love and be around weren’t on campus. They either graduated last spring or, in the case of my favorite professor, retired.

But even though this semester was totally different from what I’m used to, I found it to be beneficial. I’ve learned so much from my internship, and I’m now much more comfortable working independently in the lab and being solely responsible for the outcomes of the lab procedures that I perform. In addition, the extra days “off” from classes gave me the time I desperately needed to fill out grad school applications and talk to the various schools about any questions that I had. (And trust me when I say that I had a lot of them.) So even though this semester was extremely unconventional, I’m happy I experienced it.

Now that I’m officially 7/8 of the way through my undergraduate education, though, I’m excited to have a restful Christmas break and return refreshed for my final semester.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!!