August 31, 2011

On Experience

" You cannot create experience. You must undergo it. "
Albert Camus

I can say so many things about my summer internship. More than that which has already been said here and here. But today, I'll leave you with just a few words regarding the experience and knowledge gained from my internship at the Breast Cancer Research Lab at FCCC...

(1) A lot of hard work goes into being a PI and running a lab.
(i.e. grant writing, research planning and implementing, and keeping your sanity through all of it)
(2) Equal amounts of effort goes into being research associates. 
(i.e working late evenings, long weekends sans pay, and meeting the demands of your PI)

(3) Research is not limited to performing experiments and hoping to get results. 
Most of the time is spent collecting data; be it counting tiny cells on an invasion membrane or counting endless mammary gland structures on a 9X7 grid on a computer screen. Someone has to do it. 

(4) Being a part of a team that is as dedicated to research and science as much as you are is very motivating.

(5) Interning with world renowned breast cancer researchers who take the time to extend their knowledge to up and coming scientists is extremely rewarding. 
I was able to not only learn from the PI, co-PI, and senior researchers, but my fellow interns as well.

Oh, and btw: Apparently I should stick to my day job because I majorly failed at cutting our celebratory cake on Friday.
Rat dissections: Pass
Cake cutting: #fail 

August 29, 2011

Me, Myself and Irene

I knew the storm would hit my the Philly area by late Saturday afternoon, which meant that it wouldn't reach Connecticut until Saturday evening, into Sunday at midnight. I had the choice between staying at home until Monday to wait out the storm, or gunnin' it to Connecticut early Saturday morning.... I decided on the latter. I left Philadelphia around 8 am and arrived on campus at 11:30 am. It was cloudy, but not much more in terms of precipitation. The rain began around 6 pm. At that time, my new house mate decided to pack up and 'peace out', leaving me in a huge rancher by myself.

It was okay at first, I could hear the rain pounding on the sun roof. That was comforting enough to put me to sleep, especially since I had only slept for 3 hours the night before. I woke up around 2 pm  to the sound of the rain pounding on the sun roof, and the constant hounding of the wind. I called the beau, talked for a while then went back to sleep.

I woke up again around 8:30 am, Sunday morning, and read a text from one of my classmates that said "I already lost power". I didn't think much of it, but then I looked over to the closet (where I kept the light on over night) and realized that the light was no longer on.

The rain continued until 2pm, and then everything began drying up. Not much damage was done, except the leaky sunroof that left a small puddle in my bedroom and the living room, a somewhat flooded basement, and tree limbs, leaves and twigs scattered about the streets.

I even saw a few wild turkeys come out of hiding. It started with just 2 of them. They ran down the street making loud war cries. With that call, the two became three. Three became five, and five then became about nine or ten. The turkeys were on a wild goose chase trying to find each other. I was in the car trying to decided where to drive to while they scurried pass me. The birds were so large and swift in movement,  that I decided to just stay in the car and take pictures from afar.

The power is STILL out. It's been about 29 hours now. Who knows how long it will take to have it up and running again. Good times....

August 22, 2011

As Summer Winds Down

Farewell, Summer 2011!

I can't believe the last days of summer vacation have crept in so swiftly!
The days are getting somewhat cooler; the thunderstorm/flash flood season has arrived in full force; and the sun sets at least 20 to 30 minutes earlier now.

Although it seems as if the weeks flew by this year, it still felt like a long and fulfilling summer. I didn't go to this beach this year, and did not actually spend time away from home, but any time away from school is a vacation to me.  ツ

I was able to (1) learn a LOT, (2) meet new people, and (3)spend time with those that matter most.

I return to Connecticut in a few days. I will be completing the final year of my Masters program. (That time has passed very quickly as well).  I'm looking forward to completing this phase, and moving on to a 'non-school-related' phase in life. I am also looking forward to the new (mis)adventures that I will experience, and the life lessons that will be learned this round. Let's go!!

August 10, 2011

Video of the Day

"Love Lives On" by Mallary Hope

"And even though I cry like crazy
Even though it hurts so bad
I'm thankful for the time God gave me
Even though we couldn't make it last.
I'm learning how to live without you
Even though I don't want to
And even with you gone, love lives on"

There's something about country music that tugs at the heartstrings. (Mine, especially). Love Lives On was one of iTunes' free song of the week about 2 years ago. This song puts me in the mindset of Martina Mcbride's musical style, including all the sentiments and story telling of a true country song. I also liked this song because it speaks about what many people face each day... The loss of a spouse or loved one.

It's a beautiful song. Take a listen. ツ

August 9, 2011

Paddle! Paddle!

So, beau and I went kayaking this weekend. Initially, I was elated to try something so  adventurous. Then, about 2 or 3 days before the trip, I decided to watch a youtube video on kayaking for beginners. That first video was okay. Then I watched another one.... That was not okay. I was honestly terrified of going kayaking after that video even though it was was a simple tutorial on how to get into a kayak. I honestly freaked out until just a few moments before they handed me a life jacket. We got into our seats of the two person kayak, one of the workers pushed us off, and we were on our way!

It was a beautiful Saturday. Not very hot, definitely not humid, and there was the right mixture of sun and clouds.
Beau and I had a great time out on the waters. Since we haven't really spoken much that week, we caught up on our talk-time... (although, sometimes, I felt like I was talking to the wind and the waves, and he was just talking to my back). ツ

August 2, 2011

Not Your Typical Jack and Rose

On date night this past weekend, beau and I went to see the Upper Darby Summer Stage production of Titanic the Musical. It was such a great show, packed with awesome talent and amazing singing.

I have to be honest, within the first half hour, I was waiting to be introduced to Jack and Rose's characters. I was soon reminded that there were many other stories to be told, and indeed they were. Stories of the young and old, rich and poor. Stories of those with great expectations and dreams of "America with streets of gold". It was such a beautiful play. I really enjoyed it! 

**Photos borrowed from here**

August 1, 2011

A Picture Per Hour

I enjoy documenting days and events through photographs. For that reason, I've decided to participate in this specific event (even though I believe my days are quite boring). Also, I haven't done one of these in a while, so here goes...

7:00 am

9:00 am

10:00 and 11:00 am

12:00 pm

1:00 pm

2:00 pm

3:00 pm

4:00 pm

5:00 pm

6:00 pm

8:00 pm

9:00 pm

10:00 pm


On Mentoring

As mentioned in my post written about a month ago, I was to transition from mentee to mentor at my summer internship. I have never assumed this role before and was extremely nervous the first day, July 5, 2011.
I was to mentor 4 high school students: one was my mentor's daughter and the other three were from Long Island, NY sponsored by their respective Breast Cancer organizations. I had their schedule for the month, the BCRL's lab manual, seating charts/assignments, and their summer objectives and tasks all prepared from them in cute little folders. I was ready to start my mentoring, or so I thought. I was nervous from the time I parked in the garage that day, walked through the hospital to the lab, and to my seating area. A few setbacks changed the schedule around and I met with the students 2 hours prior to our scheduled meeting time. Anyhoo, we made it through the first day and every day became easier after that. (Especially on day two when one of the mentees told me that I should not have been nervous on the first day because I did very well).
July was a great learning period for all of us. Their young minds (15 and 16 year olds) gained so much knowledge within the first day and just about every day for the remainder of the month. They asked questions whenever they were curious, and they were overall great kids.

They each also had their own unique personalities, which brought some spunk and energy to our lab. Whether they were cracking jokes, wheeling through the length of the lab in their chairs (which really wasn't allowed), or giving us researchers a hand in some of our experiments, they were all welcomed with open arms. Yes, even the "annoying kid". (You know there's always ONE).
One of our most memorable quotes was while we were teaching the students how to dissect the rat mammary gland. I mentioned that sometimes, it is really hard to see the mammary gland on a skin pelt and to get a better idea of the location, they should try to locate the nipple on the outer skin and match it to the inner region. One of my mentees (we'll call him H) was recording their experience during this time (to create a documentary), when of the other mentees (we'll call him Y) asked me to show them the nipple. H got all embarrassed and asked that Y not say the word "nipple" while he's recording because it was not "professional". As clever as Y is, he responded:
"Okay.... Jhan, can you show me the beep?"

The lab erupted in laughter!

It seems as if I have gotten a little sidetracked in story telling, so I guess I will wrap this one up. Overall, it was such a great experience. I always admire young people who hunger and seek after knowledge. They remind me of myself at that age and makes me wish I had been involved in something so wonderful.

Friday (July 29th) was their last day. They prepared a 30 minute presentation of their research results and all their parents and friends came to see. I'll surely miss them. They were not only a joy to have in the lab, but they taught me that I can be released from my shell of shyness to be of help to others, and to impart on them the knowledge that I have received from those who were generous enough accept me into their lab and impart their knowledge to me.
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