the waiting game…

Matt and some wonderful members of the PTK Executive Committee on a trip to DC

Matt and some wonderful members of the PTK Executive Committee on a trip to DC.

So here I sit…  It’s Thursday afternoon.  All my finals are finished.  By tomorrow night all the grades should be officially posted.  So I wait…  It should not be too bad.  I have pretty much confirmed that I will have A’s in three of my four classes.  The remaining mystery is chemistry.  I have no way to gauge what the final result will be.  I thought it would be a challenging class…  It was.  At the beginning of the semester, our instructor made a point of saying that this was general chemistry, not an introduction to chemistry.  He said that we should have already taken some chemistry prior to this class.  In retrospect, no kidding!

It was definitely a challenge!  At some points it started to remind me of how I feel in math class.  Prior chemistry?  I did mention 6th grade chemistry in a previous post, right?  Well, swapping it for a lower class would have screwed up my future schedule and I really do love an academic challenge.  Tomorrow we will see what the final result was.  I look forward to updating my “current academics” page.  The challenge did nothing to diminish my enthusiasm for chemistry or science, but it was difficult.

One of the pleasures of this class came as a surprise.  I ended up with a high school kid, taking concurrent courses, as a lab partner.  He has just finished taking AP chemistry and was now taking general chemistry here at the college.  In a way, it was comforting that someone fresh out of an AP chem class found this class just as challenging.  Even more so because I was very impressed with this kid.  He displayed a similar passion for accuracy, precision, and critical thinking in the lab that caught my attention right away.  He was diligent, wanted to do the work, and the effort was pure teamwork from the beginning.  The work was shared equally, without any need for feeling like someone was carrying the group, as so often seems to happen in group work.  He reminded me a little of myself at that age, except that he clearly does his homework, and made for a fantastic lab partner.  I could not have asked for more.  I hope he achieves whatever he has set before himself, he seems very capable.

Other semester highlights…  The picture attached to this post was taken just a couple of weeks ago in DC.  The Executive Committee of Phi Lambda, our chapter of PTK, was very kind to have voted to invite me along for their annual trip.  Normally it would have been to the PTK national convention, but that was in San Jose this year and they thought it too expensive.  I have really enjoyed participating in PTK activities this year and thought it was extremely nice that they thought to include me in the trip.

I had a wonderful time!  We did some volunteer work at the Food Bank of DC, did the expected tour of the museums and had a chance to go out a bit.  I also had a wonderful chance to hang out with my brother for a while.  He drove in to town so we could hang out.  If any of our EC folks or advisors end up reading this by some strange chance, thank you again, it meant a lot to me that you guys thought of me.

Biology was fantastic!  I encountered the most organized and straightforward instructor I have yet had the pleasure of meeting.  I enjoyed the class and how he delivered it.  Our biology lab was led by a different instructor and she was also very enjoyable.  Both instructors also showed a very obvious enthusiasm for biology.  Given biology is my intended path, in one form or another, it made for a particularly wonderful class.  Fortunately, I know exactly what classes my lecture instructor is leading in the fall, so I will be able to follow up with a second semester.  Rock on!

British Lit had is own enjoyable moments.  At one point I ended up writing a somewhat unusual poem.  I may share that later, it made me laugh.  Math was math…  It is still a constant struggle, but it started to get a little better towards the end of the semester.  It’s just a matter of time, I’m sure, until I feel caught up and comfortable.  Both math and chemistry are simply things that I have to put more personal time into until I feel that same sense of ease and comfort that I feel with all my other subjects.  If I can get to the point where those two things feel half as natural as biology, I won’t have an academic care in the world…  I don’t think…  Guess we’ll find out eventually.

In the meantime, after my biology final earlier today, I attended an interesting meeting.  I volunteered, and was accepted, for a spot in CPCC’s graduation ceremony as a marshal.  Given I have never had a real academic graduation of any kind, I thought it would be a fun chance to be further involved at school and give me a preview of next spring for myself.  I really am looking forward to my very first graduation.  Not the last, to be sure, but this one will have special meaning for me.  We always remember our first time…  They keep telling us that it is a special honor to be selected.

They say we will receive a special letter for our service and should add this to our academic resume.  I have so little experience with school, outside of the classroom, that I have no way to measure those statements.  That said, they can be sure that I take the role, however simple and straightforward, very seriously.  Oddly enough, it may mean as much to me as it will to anyone else in the arena.  I am very much looking forward to participating.  Regardless of what it might mean to anyone else, I do feel honored for being allowed to participate.

Hunh…  Listen to me prattle on.  Wonderful, fun, fantastic, honored…  If one did not know better, one might think they are successfully sucking me in!  An academic alien abduction!  Who would have thought?  I finally find some irrepressible passion for something, to be immersed and involved, to have a little pride in myself (however hesitantly), and it turns out to be school of all things!?!?!?  Granted, college, but seriously???  Ah, what a difference a mere seven presidential administrations make, eh?  Good lord!  I might actually be smiling right now…  How bizarre!

Yup, I know there are still classes ahead that will make me bang my head on the desk and fling pens across the room, but hot damn it’s gonna be fun!  And there is so much fun left to be had…  Several years of never ending fun…  Over and over again…  One of us, one of us…  Ahem… Hunh?  What was I saying again?

Anywho…  So, summer semester starts on the 20th.  Chemistry II and Pre-calc Trig for me!  That should be about all the fun I can handle for the summer.  Every step gets me a littler closer.  Just last week I was fortunate enough to get into an email conversation with the Director of Undergraduate studies in the biology department of one of the universities I hope to choose from next spring.  I can’t begin to tell you what a morale booster that was.  The gentleman was so incredibly helpful and willing to help me along the way during the next 12 months!  That little email conversation made all of this feel so much more real.

It doesn’t always, you know.  Classes start to drag on, even the best ones, and it can feel like it will be forever in the same place sometimes.  It’s often hard to really imagine what next year would be like at a major university.  It can feel distant and too different to really conceptualize.  That conversation, that contact with the outside world, outside of here at least, really gave the concept some meaning.  That gentleman may have no real idea how meaningful those emails were for me, but who knows, I might get to tell him in person next year!  We’ll just have to see what happens.  Until next time!!!

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