Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Best of Times

April Hours: 10
Spring Semester: 32 (KIPP)
Total Hours: 63

As this program comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on the year. It’s hard to believe that I came here in July of last year. The friendships I have made, the relationships I have built, and knowledge that I have accumulated has truly made this year one of the best by far. The faculty members belonging to the Pharmacology department are all eager to help and see you succeed. Moving forward, I am extremely confident that what I have accomplished this year will play a vital role down the line as I begin my journey into the field of medicine. We grew not only as individuals, but as a group, and have constantly used each other as points of reference and for advice. 

Above all, this program taught me how important it is to dedicate yourself to service within the community. Regardless of the city you are in, acting members of the community should look towards each other for help and support. New Orleans, a city of such culture and history, prides itself on the strength of community and support. We were able to experience this first hand through the tornado that touched down in February. Seeing the resilience and dedication of the community was something I had never experienced. Though my time in this program has ended, I will be staying here next year and plan to continue my weekly visits to KIPP Leadership Academy. Our weekly group of volunteers may shrink, but they will absolutely continue to see the Tulane representation from all of us who are staying here next year.

I can say with confidence that I am ready for the next step. Here’s to more years like this in the future.

Friday, March 31, 2017

March Madness

As we begin a new month, it is tough to believe that things are coming to an end soon. With only a month and some change left in the program, I can’t tell if I’m eager or sad, or a little bit of both. Things have certainly begun to pick up, however.

Over the past few weeks, I have spent a lot of time working in Dr. Katakam’s lab on my project, as well as others. It has been such a rewarding experience to be a part of some unique and cutting-edge projects at the forefront of scientific innovation. My experiments for my thesis have finished up, and I have begun the daunting task of taking everything I have done and putting it into writing. I don’t know whether my thesis or the references page will be longer at this point, but it has been such a great experience, and my defense will be the culmination of a semester of hard work.

My volunteer work has been steady and consistent, as I have still continued my work with KIPP. With spring in full swing, I can tell that the students are ready to be on break for summer, and I think I’m right there with them as well. No matter the tasks they have me do, I am always happy to be there as an extra set of hands for some very dedicated and enthusiastic staff.

All things aside, March was definitely one of the busiest months so far. Having finished up the NBME Pharm shelf exam, I think I can finally after 7 months say I have a firm grasp on pharmacology. Tough to think I didn’t know what a macrolide was this past summer.

Until next month.
March Hours: 9

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

As carnival comes to a close, all I can say is wow. Mardi Gras has been without a doubt one of the most unique and enjoyable experiences I have ever had. Seeing old friends from Emory and spending time with all my new friends here, I felt like I was able to do it all. That being said, I may have to go into hibernation for a while.

We have finally finished up Principles of Pharmacology and Medical Pharmacology. Looking back, it seems like it was just yesterday that we were learning about chemotherapeutic agents in the Neoplasia block. The vast amount of knowledge I have accumulated is both striking and impressive. Now begins the strenuous 15-day period of reviewing for the NBME Shelf Exam.

Working in Dr. Katakam’s lab has continued to be enjoyable and demanding. Learning to think outside the box and use critical thinking for creative problem solving has really challenged me to expand my horizons. Writing my thesis has also been a difficult process, but I am excited and eager to see the finished product in just a few more weeks. As a whole, this semester has been off to a great start.

I have continued my volunteering with KIPP, which I am proud and happy to be doing. I truly have enjoyed my time with the staff, and hope to continue throughout the semester and next year.

February Hours: 8

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Halfway There

With the start of 2017 comes new classes, new opportunities, and new experiences. Everywhere I turn, those iconic shades of purple, green, and gold are displayed high above homes, restaurants, and buildings, as this city prepares for its most famous tradition. I can say without a doubt that I am both eager and ready to experience Mardi Gras, and looking forward to spending it with both new and old friends.

I have continued my volunteer work with KIPP Leadership Academy, as their second semester is in full swing just like ours. Continuing to build a strong relationship with the staff and students has been a wonderful experience. Our Tulane-KIPP “liaison”, Danielle, is even more of a die-hard Harry Potter fan than I am. With all that time spent in the operations office, I’d say a solid half of that time is spent quoting the movies or talking about upcoming developments in the wizarding world. My volunteer work continues to be an incredibly rewarding opportunity that I am glad I have taken advantage of.

I have also begun my thesis work in Dr. Katakam’s lab. Looking towards the upcoming months, I anticipate my schedule to continue to be busier than ever, but the entire lab is a well-oiled machine that continues to keep me motivated and driven. I thoroughly enjoy my project, and of course spending time with my cohort, the lovely Monica Dholakia.

As we continue throughout the semester, more updates are to come.  Seems like only yesterday that we arrived here in New Orleans, but I know that I, along with my classmates, will make the most out of the upcoming months for what has turned out to be an incredible experience so far.

Mardi Gras Countdown: 22 days
January Hours: 4

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Saying goodbye to 2016

As December has hit, the holidays are alive and well here in the city. Though I do not believe we will get the picturesque snowfall during this holiday season here, this is still without a doubt my favorite time of the year. Back at Emory, this time of the year would be evident due to a large 15-foot menorah placed on campus by Hillel. I am still in search of a menorah here of similar stature to really make it feel like the holidays. And of course, with the holiday season comes the increased need for charity work and giving back to the community. I am currently on the hunt for new ways to give back to the community. While in Austin, my family would always find new ways to help families in need during this cherished time of the year, and I hope to do the same here.

I have continued my volunteering with KIPP Leadership Academy as well. Each class is sorted into houses, similar to the Harry Potter series. Though I believe no magic is taking place in those hallways, I still find my time there both enjoyable and meaningful. I feel extremely gratified and fulfilled in the time I have spent there. Through all the copies of books and worksheets, as well the hour and a half spent last week cleaning out their filthy fridge, I have never stopped hearing how thankful they are for my help.

In an attempt to find other ways to volunteer my time here in New Orleans, I have stumbled upon a free clinic called Luke’s House. While in Austin, I used to volunteer at the Volunteer Health Clinic as a Spanish translator for doctors who were volunteering their time there to help patients without health insurance. From what I have read, this clinic seems to be tailored to the indigent Latino population here in the city as well, so it is my hope that I can get started with them for the few weeks we have here before we depart for the holidays.

It is honestly hard to believe how fast time has flown by here. Just one more set of exams and the semester is finished!

Service Hours: 8
Additional December Hours: 5
Total Hours: 31

Monday, October 31, 2016

When in doubt, wear a costume...

With November approaching, fall in New Orleans has come into full swing. Seeing this city transform for the highly coveted holiday of Halloween elucidated just how much the people who live here enjoy dressing up in costume. They’ll take just about any reason to do so, and it’s starting to catch up to me. Sure, I own a few costumes, but I think I’ll need to invest in a few more if I am to stay here until next summer.

This past month, I have continued my work with KIPP Leadership Academy. As I have continued to spend more time there, I have gotten to know the people who run the day-to-day operations at the school. As they told me, seeing our faces when we stroll in on Friday always puts them in a good mood. A part of me wants to think that is because we have helped out so much, but I’d be hesitant if I didn’t suspect that it is because we come in on Fridays and signal the end of the week for them. Nonetheless, this month I got to harness my creative side and help teachers with some of their classroom decorations, and of course continued with the seemingly month-long book copying project. Though the tasks they have us doing may appear trivial, everyone is always so grateful and never let our work go unappreciated.

This month I was also fortunate enough to start my work in Dr. Katakam’s lab, which currently focuses on cerebral microvascular endothelial cells and the integrity of the Blood Brain Barrier in healthy and hypoxic conditions. I am eager and excited to continue and expand my basic research experience under such an intelligent and compassionate mentor.

Service Hours: 7

Friday, September 30, 2016

Am I A Saints Fan Yet?

As the days become longer and filled with the past, present, and future of pharmacology, so my excitement and passion for the material has continued to grow. Though it has already been almost three months, it seems as though we have just scraped the surface given the vast area that the field encompasses.

I have continued my community service with KIPP Leadership Academy, and have gotten to know some of the teachers and the administrative staff that work there. As some of the most selfless people I have come across here in New Orleans, they continue to show me each week how valuable my time is there. Contributing to such an important cause and helping the teachers of the future generation in any way possible is as much rewarding as it is enjoyable. Though we still have not seen too much interaction with the students themselves, they never forget to tell us how grateful they are and how much our volunteer work helps the school run smoothly. With an increased workload, the hours spent at the school are a nice change of pace. I will surely continue to volunteer there throughout the rest of the year and into next year.

As I continue to reflect on my time here, I reminisce on how much I have grown and will continue to grow throughout the year. Being surrounded by smart, inquisitive students and faculty has helped nurture my fervor for continued education and experience. Given the fact that pharmacology is one of the fastest-growing industries and fields today, I’d say that I chose well.

Hours: 4