Posts tagged as:

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!

-Carly

{ 0 comments }

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 teams. I have a family, a team, here at Fontbonne! I don’t go home so much anymore! I have a completely different outlook on school and living in St. Louis compared to the negative views I had in the past. It’s amazing how getting involved with something that you love can totally change the way you look at things.
2.) I’m starting to really get into the chemistry curriculum this semester, and it’s both mind-blowing and, well, harder than I had anticipated. Also, I’ve done a lot more titrations than I would have anticipated doing in the class that I’m taking at Maryville this semester, Quantitative Analysis.
3.) I graduate next semester! I’m currently taking suggestions for what to do with my life.

I obviously still don’t have things all figured out. Last week I was having lots of second thoughts about pursuing a career in chemistry. I love chemistry in this really bizarre way, but to be honest, I’m behind since I don’t go to a school that offers a chemistry major (which explains the whole I’m-taking-a-class-through-Maryville situation). And also, to be honest, while I really love doing titrations in this really bizarre way (there’s something so satisfying about accurately reaching that end point, and I say that without a hint of sarcasm. I’m dead serious!), the thought of spending all my life in a lab fills me with…some dread. On our way back from Regionals this evening, it hit me that, while things seem kind of stressful and kind of messy right now, my life is slowly starting to fall into place. And you know what? I can finally, finally say that I like what it’s shaping up to be. Last semester I was in this weird, moody, searching place, but this semester, while I’m still trying to sort some stuff out as far as my future goes, I’m less afraid and more along the lines of totally stoked for the endless possibilities that are ahead of me.

During one of our first cross country team meetings waaay back at the beginning of the year, my teammates and I each filled out a little questionnaire. One of the questions asked us how we would describe ourselves using just one word. I found this ridiculously hard, but in the end it finally hit me. How would I describe myself? Simple:

(Outrageously) Happy.

At Conference. Probably my favorite race!

Have a good week everyone!

-Carly

“Ends of the Earth” by Lord Huron (our assistant coach introduced me to this band on the ride back from Regionals…I love it!)

{ 0 comments }

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 as it sounds, it’s usually other little things that I pick up on during the course of the semester that get me closer to where I want to go and who I want to be, and they’re typically not things that the authors of my mistake-filled biochem book are trying to get me to understand.

This summer, I’ve put as much distance between myself and a textbook or anything remotely resembling schoolwork or reminding me of what’s coming in three weeks as I could. And yet, I’ve found myself slowly but surely learning and growing, and maybe not so much changing who I am, but instead changing my perspective on things. A few of the lessons I’ve learned in the past few weeks…

1. Don’t judge a book by its cover: People are surprising. Like, unbelievably surprising, and I suppose that’s what makes us so awesome. I’ve spent a lot of my life growing up being too shy to really talk to people, worrying that they may dislike me if I opened my mouth and said what I wanted to say. So naturally, I kept my mouth shut 90% of the time, thinking about all of the witty contributions that I desperately wanted to make to the conversations I listened in on. These days, though, I don’t really hold back so much. Instead, I do the exact opposite and actually initiate the conversation now. I’ve learned some pretty cool things about the kids I work with as a result of this brilliant strategy of mine, and that we actually have a lot more in common than I would have ever imagined if I had sat back on the sidelines and not opened my mouth at all. I mean, one guy asked me the other day if I bake with almond flour. Um, hello? How many teenage boys do you know who know what the heck almond flour is? Seriously. I was speechless (and kind of impressed). Another kid and I both dream of heading West and moving to Colorado someday. And a lot of my coworkers are so well traveled, and way more than me, a girl whose dad is a pilot, for crying out loud! Anyway, my point is, I’ve learned that talking to people isn’t really that scary. If you’re genuinely curious about somebody, open your mouth already! Worst-case scenario: you’ll end up with new friends of all different backgrounds and interests.

2. Where you live doesn’t define you: This is one of my favorites. During the past three years of my college career at Fontbonne, I would find myself counting down the days until the weekend when I could escape from my dorm and go home. Then as I’d make the long trek home I’d beat myself up over the “fact” that I was a baby and couldn’t stay at school for two weeks straight. But this summer I’ve finally decided to own up to the fact that I like small towns and that I’m not a city person like I thought when I was a naïve little freshman a few years ago. And you know what? THAT’S TOTALLY OKAY. Going home every weekend doesn’t mean I’m lame or boring or a baby or whatever, it just means that I’m doing what makes me happy. And living in a small town, or being from one, for that matter, doesn’t make you less interesting, educated, or fun to be around. So does this mean I’m celebrating the fact that I have Fridays off this semester because it means one more day here each week? You had better believe it does!

3. Don’t be afraid to be yourself: Because in addition to being really interesting, people tend to be a lot nicer and accepting than you think. (See Lesson #1.)

4. Do what you love and what makes you happy, and everything else will fall into place: My, the beginning of the summer, when I was super pale and super stressed about my future, seems like eons ago! And news flash, I’m still not totally for sure what I’m going to do with my life. But I know I like chemistry and I’m good at it, and I’m really interested in organic agriculture. Do I have a plan for what my career is going to be? Not exactly. But am I on the verge of being sick over it? Not anymore. I’ve come to embrace the unknown and the fact that it gives me total freedom to shape my future into what I want it to be. The only thing I know for sure at this point is that after I graduate from Fontbonne, I’m going to transfer to another university to complete my second undergrad in chemistry. In fact, tomorrow I’m going on a college road trip of sorts to meet with professors from the chemistry and ag programs at Truman (my first time on their campus). I’m stoked to see what comes of it all.

And finally….

5. Don’t be so uptight: Enough said.

-Carly

“Holding On” by Classixx

{ 0 comments }

I’m done. I have a calc test in the morning, but I can’t bring myself to study for it anymore. Yes, at about the spring break mark I start losing motivation pretty fast. The weather turns! I start running again! Who in their right mind would want to be working on applications of derivatives at such a magical time of the year? And anyway, if the turn of the season isn’t enough of a distraction, I have other things on my mind, as per usual, like the looming question of, “What am I going to do this summer?”

I remember fondly the night over winter break that I threatened to change majors once and for all. My father told me something about getting a job over the summer at a hospital (ugh) to up my shot at a dietetics internship, when I stubbornly announced, “Well, I’m thinking about changing majors, sooo…” (“So that’s not going to happen”, in other words.) And then, quite seriously, maybe three days after I made the Big Change, daddy told me that I needed to get a biology internship in a lab this summer. So I began the dreaded task of filling out online applications (does anybody else hate those things? I always find them so ambiguous.) to a couple of really awesome places that I figured I didn’t have much a shot with. Yes, my dad was convinced I had just as good of a chance at getting a spot at the Danforth Center’s internship as all of those other kids who probably have known all their lives they were destined to be scientists. So I applied. I kept looking around for more opportunities, and excitedly applied for a chemistry internship at Sigma-Aldrich as well.

The other day as I was happily (??) doing my calculus, my other best friend Elizabeth (who claims to be a blogger, but whatever) came in and told me about the interview process she underwent for a computer science internship at Sigma. That’s when it hit me: if I get lucky enough to interview there, it’s going to be hard. They’re not going to ask me to talk about a deadline I had to meet, or what my weakest personality trait is (in addition to hating online job applications, I also hate those types of interview questions as well. I suck at them.). They’re going to ask me super technical questions that may require a calculator. And scratch paper. And help from the Chemistry Gods; namely, Zeus, the dog who wrote my all-time favorite book, “Organic Chemistry”:

Don't let the human in the photo fool you.

I’m scared. I heard back from the Danforth Center several weeks ago about my status in the application process, but nothing from Sigma. Do I have a shot at it? Now that I’m finally starting to feel at home in St. Louis, I want to spend the summer here, as I think it would do wonders for my personal growth. At other times, I feel like it may be nice to lifeguard again. I like being outrageously tan. But living here, on my own…it would push me out of my comfort zone to a new degree, as I ‘d have plenty of time to explore and have fun and do the things I don’t have time to do during the school year (or feel too guilty to do).

I wish I had answers to what was going to happen! But until then, I wait, with my fingers crossed that it all works out for the best. I have a feeling that whatever happens will in fact be what’s best for me. I may not see it at first, but it will be (this is pretty much the story of my life this semester, no?).

Hang in there everyone! You can do it!

-Carly

“Soft” by Washed Out

{ 1 comment }

Well Hello There.

by Carly September 17, 2012

I’ve decided that, for my first blog of the semester, I would respond to the following prompt: “Introduce yourself!” I’ve decided to respond to the aforementioned prompt as opposed to going off on my own tangent for a couple of reasons. One, I’m pretty sure my “About Me” from freshman year is pretty outdated, as […]

Read the full post →

Waiting for the Right Time.

by Carly April 30, 2012

I made it. I can (almost) officially say that I survived a full year of Organic Chemistry Lab. I didn’t catch anything on fire, make anything explode, break anything expensive, or have to use the safety shower (Although I came pretty close to using the safety shower after spilling acid on my leg. Instead I […]

Read the full post →

Real Love Had Not Quite Yet Found Me.

by Carly February 6, 2012

Okay, so I’ve decided to procrastinate out of sheer frustration with my chemistry homework. Currently, we are reading chapter 14, which is creatively entitled: “NMR Spectroscopy.” Enticed? I knew you would be. Quite frankly, I don’t understand how to identify chemical compounds utilizing IR, NMR, or any other acronym, for that mater. Give me a […]

Read the full post →

How Have Sphingolipids Changed Your Life?

by Courtney September 23, 2011

Another week of school down. And boy, it was quite a week! Yesterday, I had my third anatomy test of the semester; I’m thinking (and hoping!) that it went relatively well. And next week will be quite a week, too, with an anatomy lab practical on Wednesday and my first organic chemistry test on Thursday. “Is that […]

Read the full post →

Words of Wisdom from an Unlikely Class

by Courtney January 25, 2011

Due to the snow day, I have only had one lecture and one lab with my new General Chemistry professor, Dr. DeLaet. However, he gave us some words of wisdom during lab that I would like to share with all of you. Dr. DeLaet passed out papers and told us to read them. This seemed […]

Read the full post →

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