Thursday, March 12, 2009

Why? A couple thoughts from the pit of despair.

As I sit and type this, I have just completed a grueling and somewhat devastating exam in Physical Biochemistry. Open book/ open notes, and one of the tougher exams I have had while in grad school. Do you know how frustrating it is to be asked a question that has nothing to do with your notes or is in the appendix of the book? I guess  the only solace I have is that most of the class did not finish the exam, and I was able to complete another portion worth 30 points. I have no idea how I did, and at this point, I am wondering what the underlying reasons I am pursuing a degree are. It's good sometimes to sit back and reevaluate where you are and what you are doing. I came to Grad School because a B.S. in biochemistry in this world economy was worth nearly nothing. I could have gotten a very nice job working in a local lab in Alabama, but my ceiling would have been 60 K or so. Good money, right? I want more, though. I want to be able to be completely comfortable in providing for not only my family with my wife, but also my parents. And 60K isn't going to do it. Shoot, I want to buy a Lexus LS460 when I have the means, and that would take over half of my yearly salary at the lab! I'm thinking 115-120 K would do me nicely. A nice size house, nice car, and a flatscreen with league pass. (I'm not picky!). But is money the only driving force for why I chose the outwardly dumb decision of coming to grad school? No. The learning and life lessons I am enjoying here far exceed what I expected. I am surrounded by people who are here simply because they love to learn. Imagine that! In elementary and middle school, you were there whether you wanted to or not. In grad school, your classmates are people who made the conscious decision to put themselves through academic hell while receiving meager paychecks to learn and place themselves in the position that they would be able to stop being acceptors of knowledge (K-16) and start being CREATORS. Once you have your research degree, you begin to create knowledge. It is an absolutely mind boggling thought. When you are published (Shout outs to Theo!!) you are in essence, creating things that people now will study and learn about that maybe they didn't know before. Your work might end up in a text book studied by kids in Middle or High School who don't want to be there! Awesome! Now if only I could pass this class.....

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