Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Which student were you?

(Because I can't focus my thoughts enough to make a coherent post, and I've been meaning to do profgrrrrl's meme anyway.)

In Kindergarten: I was the average student, lapping up "Alphabet Island" with the rest of the class, failing at tying my shoes (learned in third grade), and too blissfully young to be aware of my social status. My mom was on maternity leave so I remember her volunteering at school, and my teacher was amazing.

In Elementary School: Probably the roughest part of my childhood. In first grade, one day I woke up knowing how to read and from that point on, I read everything. I was smart and the school didn't really know what to do with me. They had a few G/T programs, but I was smarter than the other kids even there (not bragging, I just was). Adding to my awkwardness, I was a complete social misfit. I went to a small in-town school, where everyone walked from the surrounding neighborhood. Everyone, but me that is. I had to take 2 buses to get there. And, in 2nd grade my parents separated, divorcing in 4th grade. I was one a very small (and socially rejected) minority of kids in class with divorced parents. I could go on, but most of my memories are social not educational, which tells me either that I didn't learn much in school or that the social lessons were much more memorable.

In Middle School: Our G/T science program gave me a group of science-loving, string-instrument-playing, German-taking geeks to hang out with and middle school was my first social bloom period. I learned a lot about doing science, public speaking, writing, and life in general in my science class, got moved ahead in math, took my first college course, and was generally so happy with where I was that when my 8th grade schedule got so complicated the principal offered to move me into 9th grade (and the high school), I refused.

In High School: I was the kid who participated in every club possible, because that was the only time I got to see my friends. Then they graduated (they were 1-2 years older than me) and I moved most of my classes to the local college. The college was definitely a step up from HS, but aside from Calc II still didn't challenge me as much as I wanted. I didn't want to be the smartest person in class without really trying. I didn't want to be the smartest person period. I was valedictorian, won lots of awards and scholarship, and appeared on the front page of the local newspaper multiple times my senior year, and I wanted out.

In College: My second social bloom period. Ah, the stories I could tell (but won't). I went to the hardest school I could get into, and struggled my freshman year with 3 science classes a semester, serving on student council, and having a boyfriend. Sophmore year I learned to manage the work load, fell in love for the first time, and got mono. Junior year I began to burn out on the work load and question my aspirations, but then I went abroad spring semester. And abroad was wonderful. The only reason I came back at all was that I had started dating BusinessMan right before I left. I graduated 1/2 way through senior year. I didn't have any more requirements, wanted out of the city and the stress of my tough-as-nails college environment, and wanted to be near BusinessMan (we were 1100 miles apart).

In grad school: I entered grad school 3 weeks after finishing undergrad, quit a project that I despised, lost my funding, and supported myself through the rest of the program. I had intended to take time off after my MS but realized part way through that I wouldn't be happy in the sort of job I could with the MS, so I applied for PhD programs. And here I am. My undergrad and MS experiences prepared me well for the PhD process; I knew what I wanted and how to work on my own. My relationship with my advisor has been good, although there have been plenty of times that I've been frustrated because he can't help me with technical stuff. But he's mentored me through the things I really needed to learn: how to write grants and papers; how to network professionally; how to be a successful academician.

Am I ready to be done being a student? Undoubtedly, yes. My cello teacher told me once that the goal of every teacher is to mold students who no longer need them. Am I ready to be a teacher? I can handle the classroom environment and the undergrad advising. Can I see myself with grad students next year? Yes, but I wouldn't want to be my first grad student. I think the going would be rough as I make the transition from student to advisor.

1 comment:

Writer Chica said...

I enjoy hearing about your life before I met you.