I was born in Philadelphia in the early 70’s. I lived most of my life in Pennsylvania and Northern Virginia. Currently I am a father of 3 and have lived in the Charlotte, NC area for the last several years. This I will freely admit up front, when I was young, I was a very difficult student. I was not satisfied with school. Two of the toys I remember most vividly from my youth are a pair of microscopes that my parents gave me. I also remember a wonderful encyclopedia of science, with more than a dozen volumes, that I read from cover to cover as a child. I mention this only to highlight the unfortunate disconnect between my interests and school experience. That is to emphasize that I was just a terrible student, despite my scholarly interests. For some reason, I just could not accept the pace of school. As I became a teenager, I began to skip class.
This is not quite what you think though… While a number of peers would do so to run off behind the school, or whatever they did, I skipped class to go to the library and read. Always non-fiction, science, history, philosophy, I believe I largely decimated the library offerings over the years and was probably more familiar with the non-fiction portion of the library than the librarian herself.
I felt boxed in. The repetition of the same material from class to class and year to year was maddening to me back then. One of the few breaks from this feeling was a science class I took in the sixth grade. I remember few names from those days, but I can tell you that my sixth grade science class was taught by a seemingly crazy, short, stick thin, Italian guy named Mr. Disipio. He ran that class as a self-paced experience. You had the textbook, you had the workbook, and you had the chemistry equipment. It was up to you to work through it. It was the only time that I was in a class like that. Within certain deadlines, you could work through the material as fast or as slow as you were going to go. By the halfway point of the year, I had gone through all the material and he was actually printing additional materials to work on beyond the book. This was the single most memorable and positive class and classroom experience that I have.
When reading an introduction to physics in the library is the most productive and positive part of your grade school day, you have a number of problems. They may actually sound like positive problems, but if the school is not geared toward addressing them, positive or not, they are still problems. The result was a frustrating experience that left me trying to escape a formal education as quickly as possible. As adults, we certainly know better, and my parents tried to explain it to me… But, even a smart teenager is still sometimes just a teenager, with all that entails.
So my experience with a formal education was overwhelmingly negative. I walked away as soon as I could and bounced from job to job. I know now that I was trying to find what I had already given up on. Fortunately, I am older now and hopefully wiser. It is a bit late in life, but I am determined to go back and accomplish what I could have back then, to better the life of my family and myself. I have plenty of time left to me and deeply wish to use it better than I did before. My ambition is to begin by earning an A.S. degree and transfer to a university to pursue an advanced degree in biophysics, or simply biology, chemistry, or physics. To me though, biophysics seems to embody a multidisciplinary collaboration of all three of those areas and appeals to my natural tendency to solve problems by drawing on information from unexpected sources.
I have loved science since I was a child. I pursued it on my own because I enjoyed it, not because it was assigned to me. Now, I am finally bound and determined to pursue it in a formal fashion. The use of the oft repeated phrase “bound and determined” is no accident. I have very much bound myself to this purpose. As you may gather, my funds for this purpose are limited. While asking for assistance feels somewhat awkward, a great deal of reflection has reminded me of something that I think is important.
While potential scholarships are one thing, though I have not received any to date, government assistance in the form of grants and loans comes with a particular caveat. You are still asking for help, but you are anonymous to those who are actually helping you, your community, and that help comes without a choice. Your taxes are taken and given to students involuntarily. Without trying to start a debate on government spending, it feels more legitimate to ask people personally to help voluntarily. You give of yourself freely, by choice. You know who you are helping and have your own reason for wanting to do so. It is personal and voluntary.
To me, however awkward it may feel, it also feels like a more legitimate thing. In other posts, I will detail my classes and experiences. As I build this blog, I will expand it to allow those who want, to follow along on my journey. For the help I receive along the way, it is my hope to “pay it forward” as they say, by providing similar help to others in the future. If you wish to help, and are able, you may hit the “donate” link. It is processed through Paypal, though you do not need to have a Paypal account. If you are moved to help in other ways, please feel free to leave me messages here or on Facebook. Navigating the waters of scholarships, choices of universities to transfer to, and any number of other subjects are quite new to me, and information and advice can be a significant help as well. Feel free to navigate around as I build up this blog and see what I have already done and what I am currently working on.
Thank you very much for taking the time to see what’s going on here!