## Saturday, January 2, 2016

### Long Time, No See

Wow! it feels good to be back.

Many of you know, have seen, and have heard about the grand schemes I have been up to in the past few months, which has kept me too busy to write more blog posts here.  I'll take a moment to get you all up to speed on the big moves I have been making.

Some of you have seen the inception of my Research Website and the drastic changes I have made to it since I started writing the HTML/CSS/JavaScript code for that in September.  I even have a cool background image for the site now!  Look familiar?
Seeing this website come to fruition is like a small dream come true for me.  This started as a simple idea and at the start I only knew a couple HTML commands (< br > for break and < a > for links).  The website is still a work in progress but I love how it's turning out.

Another endeavor (that only my research advisors probably noticed) is the amount of money I have racked up this year for research--as seen on my CV.  Receiving that much   \$ for research funding as an undergraduate, within one year's time, required me to devote a LOT of time to writing about my research.  (And my CV doesn't even include the generous stipend I received from my summer internship! )

Needless to say, all of that writing about my research took a lot of time away from my academic studies during this past fall semester.  The writing combined with the actual obligations of conducting the research certainly made this semester much more difficult.   However, I am happy to inform you that I persevered.  I didn't get a 4.0 GPA this semester, but I am still happy with the fruits of my labor.  Excellent grades, great progress in research, and an abundance of research funding came out of my hard work this summer and semester.

The McNair Scholars Program, formally known as the Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, also kept me busy.  Much of my extra-curricular writing this year was for the McNair Program.  Additionally, because of my completed McNair research project I had to present my research at the FIU McNair conference.
 Me delivering my talk.  For those of you who've seen my website, the photo should look familiar.
Hanging out with other McNair students that completed their research projects was a fun experience too.

We had a great time together.  The conference itself was mediocre though.  (With the AAS Meeting being my first science conference, I admit that I'm probably spoiled when it comes to this stuff.)

In this post, I have given you a brief synopsis for a few of my most time consuming (although fun) extra-curricular activities for this past semester.  However, I didn't even tell you about the hard work I put into my NSF Graduate Research Fellowship application.  Nor did I discuss the essays I have written this semester for graduate school applications.  But most importantly, YOU JUST DON'T KNOW how tortuous the Quantum Mechanics class I took this semester was.  To give you a glimpse of the pain, here is a quote from my professor: "I expect the homework to take 15 hours for all of you."
Unfortunately, this was not a joke.  Each homework assignment given once every week to us--undergraduates who are taking 4 or more classes this semester--truly did take a minimum of 15 hours to complete.  The teacher believed that this absurd amount of work would prepare us well for graduate school.  Literally, every student in his class disagreed with this notion at the beginning, middle, and very end of his class this semester because of the 4+ classes we all were taking.

Without a doubt, this was the hardest semester of my college and high school career.  To be frank, I am willing to say that I had a great/fun semester ONLY because of how good things turned out for me in the end.  Ultimately, the, sometimes overwhelming, amount of work and stress I experienced this semester was mostly my fault.  I decided to work on 3 research projects simultaneously this semester (including 1 that is not mentioned on my CV).  I made the choice to apply for research grants and write essays while taking this tortuous Quantum Mechanics class.  I made the choice to do all of these extra-curricular obligations even though I knew that I had graduate school applications coming up.

Perhaps this semester, I bit a little more than I could chew... Regardless of whether or not that is true, great things were--and still are--happening for me on a weekly basis thanks to the immense amount of time and effort I put into all that I do.  I'm looking forward to seeing more fruits of this semester's labor manifest once the results of my NSF and graduate school applications come out.