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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

New Beginnings

A little over a month has gone by here in New Orleans, and I can easily say that this city has already won me over. I have never been in a place that is so incredibly full of life and culture. Each street corner is brimming with history and a passion for life unlike anywhere else. As I reflect on what I have learned in the short time that I have been here, the first thought that comes to mind is the importance of community involvement.

With disasters like Katrina and the most recent floods of Baton Rouge occurring more frequently than one would like, it is no wonder the state of Louisiana has developed such a strong state identity and network of support. It barely took me a few weeks to feel a sense of belonging and a desire to support the people around me. My community service for this past month has been directed towards KIPP Leadership Academy in the Bywater. As a K-8th grade charter school, they are a part of the KIPP charter school network that was started after Katrina as a conglomerate of non-profit schools started by the public and directed towards the public. Though most of my work there has been administrative assistance, I hope to be working with the students soon. However, through my time spent there, I have seen just how hard these teachers work and how much every minute of my time there helps them. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to help these teachers who are often under-appreciated, but who deserve a great deal of praise and respect for the incredibly important job that they do.

With September approaching, I am looking forward to continuing my studies, continuing my volunteer work, and continuing my exploration of this wonderful city. As the French would say, "Laissez les bons temps rouler!"

Hours: 7