In my last post, I spoke about how sometimes research feels like storytelling and how Brene Brown has influenced my understanding of what storytelling means in the context of research. As a few of the projects lab are wrapping up (including mine!) I feel relief and excitement, I am relieved that my long days and countless revisions have brought me to the place I am today. I am working on page 4/5 of the manuscript which (in my opinion) is the most important(ish). I am working on the “how” of my paper. I would even say the “how” trumps the 5 Ws. Throughout this work, I have come to understand why my PI insist on laying out this paper the way he is choosing to do so. He wants to tell a story. He wants to take the reader/reviewer through his mind and understanding of what is going on. The best way to do this is through an introduction/middle/conclusion format. Stories are also supposed to be some level of intriguing and maybe even a little inspiring. I am thankful that this opportunity has shown me how much I enjoy being a storyteller.
As a senior student at Michigan, there is a lot on my mind all the time. I wonder how time could have really passed so quickly. I wonder what I should do next and what is the most logical step for me. I mostly wonder how I can take what I have learned and apply that to do good. There are a few ways I want to use what Michigan has taught me (notice how I did not say what my degree has taught me)
- I really enjoy the research. It is like solving a puzzle and I think it is supposed to be a healthy balance of discouraging and uplifting. A puzzle will never be able to tell me what my worth is. It is also nice that when I am wrong about something I can think “Well at least no one else knows the answer either” which is also why it super great when I figure out the answer. My hands are the future. I want my hands to continue to be the future and I hope to use my hands and mind to do good in the biomedical feel. The tangible and progress of it all can be so fascinating. This is the best part of my lack of patience…it works so well to fuel my drive in science. I want to continue in research (particularly cancer research).
- I want to increase access to research. I am the only black person I’ve been working as a research assistant on my floor. In fact, I am the only underrepresented minority I have seen working in science on my floor. There are a few POC working in the office doing administrative work, but none in the lab spaces. As I tweak my resume, I see that almost 60% of my skills are things I have learned in this past year in the lab. I have learned these amazing things with the relentless and compassionate guidance of the post-docs at work. They have been the most fantastic people to have in these beginning stages of my science career. Their expertise assures that I always learn things the correct way in addition to little tips and tricks to save money/time. I would not be 1/500 th of the scientist and student I am today without this opportunity. Although I am incredibly grateful to be able to do what I do, it makes me sad to think about how many black children will never have the opportunity to dream of being a brilliant scientist like I do or if this dream will only ever be a dream. I hope to start an organization that partners with research institutions to assure that more underrepresented minorities and students of color have this opportunity although they have no lab experience. Several of my friends who have worked in labs at Michigan attained their spot through connections their parents have. With that opportunity, they are much more competitive in the job market and grad student applicant pool. I came in with no experience and I know I can see the light as this project is coming to a close and once we finish it will most likely move into clinical trials which is amazing. GBM patients median survival rate is about 14-17mo. My hands are months away from providing hope to the hopeless. All of this came because I wasn’t stereotyped and I was given an opportunity to grow and learn and from this opportunity, I have worked on overdrive to assure that my appreciation and commitment to what I have been given is real. I know this is where I belong and what I should be doing, but I would never have seen myself as the hope for the future or even capable without this opportunity and the kindness and acceptance I have received from the people I work with.