Single Status Update
Life is a series of mistakes worth keeping, and when there's money involved, they become hilarious.
I’d do anything for money, excluding the following: petting snakes, eating worms, working a shitty job, forming a cult, getting kicked in the balls, making out with Rosie O’Donnell, contracting AIDS, jumping off a cliff (without chutes), etc. etc. etc. you get the point :p
What I WILL do, however, is interfere with genetic research for three thousand dollars; of the subject of genetics I haven’t a clue… still doesn’t deter me. I got accepted into the Amgen Scholars Program for Biotechnology Research this summer, fully paid. Looks like I’ll be getting money for doing research on a subject that I have zero knowledge about. How did this happen?
Sounds like a deal to me!
Short Story: A giant mistake (albeit a fun one) that I’m gonna capitalize upon.
Long story: . . .
“Dean Christopher Jenkins of MIT is the director of the national program office for the Amgen Scholars Program, and forwarded your name to us.” Said the email from Howard University offering a Scholarship. I was interested, so I said yeah… Several days later, I checked out the Amgen Scholar Website and came to the conclusion that I was in over my head when I accepted this offer.
1) As a Pre-Arch student, I haven't gotten into a major yet.
2) The closest thing I’ve gotten to biotechnology was CHEM-151, taken a couple of years back.
3) Everything I know about the science behind genetics can be summed up in a single acronym: GATC*.
4) The program lasts for the major portion of summer; I won't be at the beach to say the least.
5) Lastly, the program’s starting date also coincides with finals week here at the UW.
Considering that my intended major doesn’t include any form of sheep cloning or curing cancer, Christopher was out of his mind when he picked me for Amgen research. On top of that, I’ll be three thousand miles away from everyone I know for at least two friggin’ months, I mean yeah, I’ve traveled away from home longer than that, but always with someone I know. What compels me to say yes still? Thirty Benjamin Franklins can’t be wrong, buddy.
... That and I have nothing better to do for the summer**... and this is a good excuse to postpone my plans of saving the world; illiterate kids and the disabled can wait.
My first task was to find two letters of recommendations. So what did I do? I pestered both of my former physics professors. Enter classroom of Professor #1:
Dr. Reinemer: Agh, it’s you again!
Me: I know eh?
Dr. Reinemer: It’s good to see you again Huy! How are you doing?
Me: Erhm… School is too hard, I'm flipping burgers.
Dr. Reinemer: ...
Dr. Reinemer: So you like it!
Gregory Reinemer is one of the nicest person I’ve ever met, used to be a plumber, then a baker, then a restaurant owner, then got his Ph.D. as a physicist in laser optics at the age of 40, and became a Professor. His exposure to many walks of life made him really down to earth and approachable. Gregory always had time to chat, even as he frantically typed away at the keyboard. An excellent reader of sarcasm, he saw through my snicker and started my letter of recommendation. I hope to be like him when I grow up (if at all).
Next target: Professor #2:
Igor provoking the Christians again.
Circa Spring 2006.
Me: Igor! Have you won your Nobel Prize yet?
Dr. Glozman: Huy! How are you my son?
Me: I have a scholarship offering from Howard University.
Dr. Glozman: ... So you’re going to a black college?
Igor Glozman is Russian, Jewish and an upfront atheist, has an aptitude for stirring religious debate during his lectures and tried converting me to the dark side (atheism) many times, to which I nicknamed him Emperor Palpatine. Always packing a healthy dose of cynicism with smiles, he loved racial humor, and boasted that Jews are academically superior to Asians.
The poster in Dr. Glozman's Office.
This doesn't reflect my beliefs, but whatever!
Igor got going on my letter of recommendation and threw in the religious issue just for kicks (religion on exploration of the human genome remains an extreme point of contest). Absolutely charismatic in his confident cynicism, Igor is my faithless hero.
Howard University, Washington DC
Anyways, back on the main subject… I googled Howard University and I’ll be darned if Igor’s not correct: Howard University is a black college! I have worked with many, many diverse groups and subcultures in the past through Diversity and Tolerance training, and got along with black people quite well, so that's a good thing.
Howard University according to Wikipedia, is “affectionately known as ‘Black Harvard’” and “is the number one producer of African American Ph.D.s in the nation.”
Ten days after I submitted my application, the acceptance letter came back. So I am doing genetic research for this summer after all. They made a mistake, I played along, and they took me seriously!
Writing from May 17th, I have two weeks before June 1st to arrange with my current professors an extremely early final testing date, which will deprive me one week’s worth of studying. Argh.
I told a couple of friends about this goof-up, and the responses ranged from “Congratulations!” to “OMG, we need to hang out now.” One particular exchange, however, stuck out in my mind most:
Me: Remember that genetic research program that I was telling you about?
David: Oh yeah.
Me: I got accepted.
Me: I’m gonna be stuck in a laboratory all summer long.
David: They want to steal your DNA.
Me: Why the hell would they want to steal my DNA?
David: They’re collecting DNA of smart people.
Me: Dude, why don’t they just f-ing steal Jewish DNA instead.
Smart? I can’t even put on a matching pair of socks this morning let alone deliberate the subject of human genome. David is in all likelihood a better candidate for this scholarship than my sorry arse… and he’s partly Jewish too, oh… and atheist as well. My professor, my friend, smart, Jewish… see a trend here Sara? Maybe one of these days I’m gonna counterattack their beliefs (or lack thereof) by converting them to Agnostic Theism***… Hmmm… :)
With the appointed time and destination of Howard University fast approaching, I have to close the genetic knowledge gap FAST, while juggling architecture projects and accelerating finals study. If all goes well, this may be my chance to explore a completely new school and system of knowledge, and get active again.
--- --- ---
*Maybe understated, but you get the point.
**Icelandic excursion possible after July 28th.
**Will be flying out to MIT in late August.
***Not knowing the existence of God but still believe in such existence of God.
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They found in mammals, not specifically humans, they turned it on in mice and damage to thier hearts healed completley (when mammals have a heart attack normally it leaves a 'scar' of non-working tissue, but the mice actually grew new heart tissue in it's place)
It was on a channel 4 show called Animal Farm, can't remember what episode... some pirate has probably stuck it on youtube so start looking