It's all about the little things…

Tag Archives: back to school

Week 38-Back to school, Day 7-Laboratories

I had  a serious case of the Mondays, but after some great encouragement via Facebook and text messages from some great people I had a terrific Tuesday!  I didn’t lose my coffee cup, I taught my first two labs in the Biology department of WVU, and I wore my new jeans that I’m in now in love with.  Teaching those two lab sections was definitely the highlight of my day though.  It’s always a little scary when you’re giving a presentation to a group of people, but so far the kids seem eager and I love watching them learn.  Some people say that those can’t do, teach, but anybody who has ever taught knows that those who teach, do make a difference.

Laboratories all over the country are where the nitty-gritty research to end serious diseases happens.  The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory was found in 1890 and they lead the way in efforts in molecular biology and genetics to generate new information that will yield better way to diagnose and treat cancers, neurological diseases and other major human health issues.  CSHL was first founded as a teacher-training laboratory for biologist, but has evolved into a highly respected molecular biology and genetics research facility.  Thousands of scientists come to CSHL every year to participate in their renowned Meeting and Courses program.  Discovery and education go hand in hand for CSHL, which is something I can definitely appreciate.  The students in my class will learn all about genes this semester during lab, but they probably don’t know about Jeans For Genes Day in October.  JFG is all about raising funds and awareness for children who are born with genetic disorders.  One way they accomplish their mission is by giving schools educational resources to share with all of their students.  It is hard enough on these children to learn to live and thrive with their individual diseases, the last thing they need are other insensitive kids making them more uncomfortable in their own skin.  Plus this gives me one more excuse to wear my jeans to teach.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Donation

Jeans For Genes Donation

So here’s to you laboratories!  You have been a part of my life since high school, and you’ve only gotten better with age.  It doesn’t matter if you are Biology, Animal Science, Microbiology, or Biochemistry because just learning from you is enough to make my day.  I mean you’re the place where we get to dissect, replicate, grow, and experiment in brand new ways.  Thank you for giving us a place to be a kid again.

Week 38-Back to school, Day 6-Tomorrow is only a day away

I know I usually start off writing about something really positive that happened over the course of my day, but today is not that day.  Even though today was the first official day of classes at WVU, my one and only class was moved to Wednesday.  I lost my travel coffee mug.  I waited in line for 30 minutes for two little CDs at the bookstore.  My access card to get into my new laboratory isn’t activated yet.  I think you get the point.  So after I got home, sat down, had some delicious Mexican pizza made by my wonderful-beyond-words husband, I realized I needed to suck it up.  I’m healthy, I’m happy, and tomorrow is a new day. 

Sometimes the best medicine for today is tomorrow.  The Women of Tomorrow Mentor & Scholarship Program has been helping young women reach their full potential through their unique mentoring program since 1997.  WOT pairs extremely successful professional women with at-risk teenagers in public high school for monthly mentoring sessions over a period of three or four years.  The mentors of the WOT program are judges, doctors, lawyers, executives, entrepreneurs, and even airplane pilots that want to make sure these young women know the possibilities that lie ahead of them.  Over 2,000 teenagers are reached in 99 schools across South Florida by WOT’s network of 250 mentors.  Everyone needs someone to look up to so they can visualize how much better their tomorrow will be compared to today.  Something I’m really looking forward to in my tomorrow (like a lot of tomorrows from now) is having kids.  Kids for Tomorrow knows how valuable kids are to our world so they work to bring educational opportunities to developing countries.  Their projects in Kenya and Cambodia focus on primary grades, and brining a holistic approach to solving the problems facing these nations.  KFT wants kids to have a safe and inspiring learning environment but they know that they also need access to clean water, affordable and healthy food options, and the involvement of their local community in order to sustain projects.  I may not be a kid anymore, even though I kind of pouted like one today, but I still see a bright future ahead of me.

Women of Tomorrow Donation

Kids for Tomorrow Donation

So here’s to you tomorrow!  You were the only thing getting me through the rest of this long Monday.  You are never promised so even though your friend, today, might seem crappy, it could very well be our last.  Even though we should live like you’re ever gonna get here, we should give like you’re never gonna end, because without you there is no future.

What's on your agenda?

Week 38-Back to school, Day 5-Pencil me in

Technology has changed the way we take notes, study, and make presentations but there will never be a true replacement for the old-fashioned No. 2 pencil.  Thousands upon thousands of students, including myself, grew up using them for everything from math homework to cursive writing practice.  Do they still teach that?  Pencils were also the go-to writing utensil when any kind of standardized test was at hand.  Those bubble sheets and scantrons were the bane of my existence as a test taker, but I did love a freshly sharpened (or clicked if mechanical) pencil.  As I was gathering up all my pencils for the start of classes tomorrow I was reminded why I’m so thankful for things that never change.

How could you resist that face?

Would you believe me if I told you that all it takes are some pencils to build a school?  Probably not right, but Pencils of Promise are building schools in developing countries and teaching young leaders how they can take action at home and abroad.  Adam Braun was approached by a begging boy in India and he asked him, “What do you want most in the world?”  His answer was simple, “A pencil.”  As Adam reached into his backpack and handed him a pencil the little boy’s face lit up and Adam realized the pencil really is mightier than the sword.  POP started as a local initiative and it has stayed that way even though it has grown tremendously in the three short years since it’s inception.  They work with local communities to plan, build, and maintain a successful school for generations to come.  POP has proven that a generation empowered will empower the world, and I don’t know about you, but I want to be a part of that!  The other thing that pencils are great for is writing letters to soldiers fighting for our country.  The mission of Operation Gratitude is to put smiles on the faces of servicemen and women through care packages and hand-written letters from thankful civilians.  Thousands upon thousands of soldiers are deployed to hostile and harsh environments where they are separated from their friends and families for extended periods of time.  Even if they put on a brave face and complete their jobs, I’d still be willing to bet there are a million others places they would rather be on any given day.  It’s those days when a letter from home and some goodies work miracles.  OG also has a program for the little ones that soldiers leave behind when they are deployed.  The kids are given a fluffy stuffed toy called a Battalion Buddy to hug while their mommy or daddy is away.  Now you know two new ways to use those back to school pencils instead of using them as weapons in the classroom this school year.

Pencils of Promise Donation

Operation Gratitude Donation

So here’s to penciling in some giving!  We make time to go to school, do our homework, eat three meals a day, and a million other things so why not do one more?  So take out your pencils, make sure they are sharp, and start that to-do list: buy new outfit for school; get a new computer; give somebody the gift of possibility.

Week 38-Back to school, Day 4-New outfit

Everybody needs that one special outfit for the all important first day back to school.  In elementary school your mom was more concerned about your outfit than you were.  In middle school you had to be sure and have the right name brand sneakers and t-shirt with the best jeans.  In high school it was all about whatever would get the most attention from the upper class boys.  In college you realized that people only paid attention to what you wore to the parties, so you would rock your sweats to class.  Now that I’m teaching class my requirements for my first day outfit a little different, but I’m always thankful for new clothes.

Somebody's styling and profiling

Having a new outfit isn’t just cool, it helps kids sense of belonging if their clothes are in good shape and fit well.  Care to Learn is a non-profit in the Ozarks that takes immediate action against the hunger, healthy, and hygiene issues that children face.  If any of you have seen Winter’s Bone, you’ll have a good idea what these young people are put through.  It’s hard to learn when all you can think about it how embarrassed or hungry you are.  CTL provides a toothbrush, a coat, breakfast, or whatever unmet needs the kids are burdened with that day.  School isn’t just a place to learn for them.  It has become a refuge from the suffering they face at home.  Founded by Doug Pitt (yes that is Brad’s brother) in 200, over 69,000 emergent requests from students have been fulfilled over the past three years.  Dignity U Wear has been around since 2000, and they too work to positively impact the lives of children and their families by providing them with brand new clothes.  They work with other social service organizations to make sure these new clothes arrive at just the right time like the first day of school or before a big interview.  DUW also focuses on one very important piece of clothing that everyone needs and no one wants to discuss.  Underwear.  Sometimes the most biggest boost in dignity can come from the smallest articles of clothing.

Care to Learn Donation

Dignity U Wear Donation

So here’s to a new outfit!  You’re one of my favorite parts of starting each new school year.  Going to school in clean, comfortable, and well-fitting clothes makes it a lot easier to find the square root of 99, or discuss Beowulf.  Wanting you doesn’t make us shallow, it makes us want to present ourselves in a professional manner no matter what our age.  Thanks for putting a little pep in our step and helping us kick of the new school year right.

Week 38-Back to school, Day 3-Mac it to me


Yes you read that title right, Mac it to me baby.  I have officially switched from a PC to a Mac, and the only thing I regret is not doing it sooner!  I haven’t had a brand new computer since I started college seven years ago.  That may not seem like a long time, but in technology time that is like a million years.  I’ve been really lucky to have used Scott’s old computer for the past year, but it sure feels nice to have one of my own again.  I love it when waiting for something you really want makes you even more thankful when you get it.

People in my generation are considered technology natives.  We can’t remember a time when computers weren’t a part of our lives.  You give us a new piece of technology and we’ll figure it out within minutes.  The Computer History Museum is there to make sure we don’t forget how far we’ve come during the information age.  Founded in 1999, they have the unique mission to preserving and celebrating computer history.  CHM has one of the largest collections of computing artifacts in the world, including everything from software to hardware.  They also document the evolution of the relationship that we as humans have with computers.  They have literally chagced our entire world, and they’re not done yet.  CHM helps us remember where we came from so we can look ahead to where we are going.  One place I like to go is the Free Software Foundation where the software I need for my new computer is free.  They are on a mission to promote computer user freedom and defend the rights of all free software users.  Free software is important because it lets the user share, study, and even modify the program all at no cost.  This can lead to better software for everyone, and who doesn’t want that?  FSF maintains the Free Software Definition so it is crystal clear what is required for software to be considered free.  Somebody’s gotta make the rules right?  I’m just thankful it’s not me.

Computer History Museum Donation

Free Software Foundation Donation

So here’s to Macing it up!  I am already so in love with all the fabulous features of my new laptop.  I’m also so thankful that to have a fresh technological start for the 2011 school year.  I know all my hard work during my PhD program will be safe and sound with this little baby.  But don’t get it twisted.  My motto, pretty much for all things in life, is work hard and play harder, so my Photo Booth and Garage Band will be busy as well.

Yea I'll be seeing you later tater

Week 38-Back to school, Day 2-Lipstick Jungle

One of my all time favorite things to buy before school starts every year is new makeup!  It’s a well-known rule that if you look good, you feel good, and you gotta feel good when you start back to school.  Clearly makeup is more of a priority for girls than boys, but boys still get to reap the benefits of how dang awesome we look.  I don’t think everyone needs to wear buckets of makeup on a daily basis, but a smoky eye or a flirty lip can brighten your entire day.  Real beauty radiates from the inside out, but putting a shiny new light bulb in the socket helps too.

Lately my go to source for fresh new makeup looks is none other than Mary Kay.  When we moved to WV in February I was reintroduced to the great products (and awesome consultants!) that MK offers, and I’ve never looked back.  I also love purchasing MK products because they are dedicated to ending domestic violence in women through The Mary Kay Foundation.  MKF just recently donated almost $4 million to help women and children from the sales of their Beauty That Counts creme lipsticks during 2008, 2009, and 2010.  MKF also observes National Domestic Violence Awareness Month every October by awarding grants to women’s domestic violence shelters across the United States.  Over 150 shelters in all 50 states received a total of $3 million last year alone.  Over the past three years as the economy has suffered, there has also been an increase in domestic violence and a decrease in the governmental funding for the shelters that help these victims.  I know, it doesn’t make any sense.  AIDS doesn’t make any sense to me either.  I mean, I understand that it’s a retrovirus and all that sciencey stuff, but the devastation it creates on a daily basis astounds me.  The MAC AIDS Fund supports those men, women, and children who are affected by HIV/AIDS.  Founded in 1994, every red cent of the Viva Glam lipstick and lipglass products are donated to the fund.  One little tube of lipstick translates into 1 rapid oral HIV test, or 233 male condoms, or 14 blood glucose monitoring ships, or a pair of shoes for a child orphaned by AIDS.  MAF helps celebrate how precious life is, and connects them to their passion of helping people of all ages, races, and gender affected by this life altering disease.  MAC has also used the faces of RuPaul, Pamela Anderson, and recently Lady Gaga to spread the word about their Viva Glam campaign.  They constantly prove that beauty changes lives.

The Mary Kay Foundation Donation

MAC AIDS Fund Donation

So here’s to you lipstick!  You’re just one little piece of the beauty puzzle that us women put on every morning.  You come in shades of fiery reds, natural nudes, and beachy corals.  You may come in a small package but you pack a big punch.  Thank you for making us look and feel good in more ways than we even realize.

Week 38-Back to school, Day 1-CPR & FA

I have an announcement.  I am officially trained in First Aid and certified in CPR for adults, children, and infants!  I was in training all day as a requirement for the laboratory classes I am teaching this fall, but I actually kind of enjoyed myself.  So maybe not the whole time, if you’ve ever seen any of the training videos you’ll understand why, but overall I was thankful I had the chance to take this very important class for free.  Plus being back in the classroom put me in the back to school spirit.  All I need now is a new pair of ridiculously overpriced pair of tennis shoes that won’t be cool next semester.

The kids who grown up in South Africa may not need the First Aid that I learned today, but they definitely need a little help.  South African Youth Education for Sustainability is an non-profit that aids in the empowerment of the forgotten children and youth in South Africa.  Founded in 2008 SAYES guides and supports young people as they transition from living in a residential living care to homes to making it on their own.  Each young person is carefully placed with a mentor who works with them one-on-one who offers advice and assistance with housing, employment, education and skills training, and personal development.  SAYES prevents kids from ending up on the streets because they don’t have the education or training they need in order to be employable and support themselves.  And for all you X-Files fans out there Scully, Gillian Anderson, is on the board of trustees for this great organization.  Yea, I didn’t see that one coming either.  I also learned CPR which could save the life of someone in cardiac arrest, but the Larry King Cardiac Foundation works to provide life saving cardiac procedures for people who would otherwise be unable to afford it.  When talk show host Larry King had quintuple bypass surgery he was lucky that he has insurance to cover the cost, but he realized that not everyone is so lucky.  LKCF was founded in 1988 and still embraces the ambitious goal of “saving a heart a day”.  The LKCF is not only saving lives, they are also healing families one patient at a time.  A little heart can go a long way.

South African Youth Education for Sustainability Donation

Larry King Cardiac Foundation Donation

So here’s to putting safety first!  Going back to school can be very exciting, or earth shattering depending on who you ask, but being safe is priority number one.  Don’t run with scissors, or choke on your food, and be sure you sit down if you feel faint.  I hope I never have to perform CPR on anyone, but I will be thankful if I ever save a life, and I bet they will be too.