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May 17, 2008

Commencement is approaching so quickly!  I’ve got my gown and stole and College Honors cord hanging on a hanger so that it’s as wrinkle free as possible.  It is only six days away, and while I was really excited about getting graduation over with a couple of weeks ago, my feelings now are mixed with some apprehensions.  I know I’m going to miss the times of just kicking back and hanging out in the dorm, and the ease of walking across campus to meet up with your friends.  If Cape Week taught me anything, it was that meeting up with people after undergrad will be much harder because everyone will be separated locally in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, all the way to the West Coast.

Speaking of Cape Week, I did not stay for the whole week, but cut it short by returning Friday at 3:30 am to avoid the rain and traffic.  Meeting all the Holy Cross students outside of the campus is interesting, and provides me of a glimpse of what’s to come after graduation.  After several days out at the Cape, things tend to get a little repetitive, and so the desire to return home (or campus) creeps in, though the time spent in South Yarmouth and Mashpee were a great break from being confined to campus.  There’s only so much mini-golfing and bowling one can do while out there.  Thanks to Jake and Juliet for letting us use their houses!

The next week is Senior Week.  Events that I plan on attending are the Luau, Pub Night, night out at Irish Times, the Boston Harbor Cruise, and trip to Mohegan Sun.  It’s about time to brush up on Blackjack strategies.  All this leads immediately into Commencement on May 23 (67 degrees and Partly Cloudy as of today).  It better stay sunny so that the ceremony can take place outside!

May 7, 2008

Hi everyone!  My last message was quite a while ago, which is a testament to how busy I’ve been over the last few weeks.  My time was pretty much spent finishing up my senior year.  I had my last few in-semester exams and papers to get done, as well as the beginning of the end of my thesis and chemistry research project.  A couple of the bigger projects were the Academic Conference presentation for members of College Honors and Departmental Honors around campus, as well as the Chemistry Department presentation in front of the chemistry faculty.  I felt both presentations went well, with much practice put in before so that I would portray my best.  From then until just today, I had been working on editing my honors thesis.  It is a finished product as of the afternoon of May 7, 2008.  All that is needed is a signature from my research and thesis advisor, Prof. Joshua Farrell, and the signature of Prof. Mat Schmalz, the Director of the College Honors Program.  My advisor’s signature may be difficult to get, since his wife gave birth to their third son very early this morning.  Congratulations to the Farrell family!

With the thesis just complete, and my final exams all finished, I have one more essay assignment for my Mythology class due this Friday.  While there are several topics, I’m choosing to write on the Iliad since several class sessions were spent discussing the epic poem.  As soon as that assignment is over, I’m free!  Looking at my friends’ away messages on AIM and Facebook, it seems quite a few are already done with all their academic obligations.  My roommate has been done since Tuesday morning, but several others are still on the grind until the last hours of finals period.  Good luck to all of them!

I mentioned before that I had no secure employment after graduation, and that is still the case.  I did, however, send out a resume and cover letter to an individual at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, NY about a position as a Clinical Research Assistant.  I’m excited about having a chance to work so close to home while contributing to a worthwhile and well-respected organization.  An interview will probably happen shortly after Commencement, May 23.  I can’t tell you how amazing it is to say that I’ll be a college graduate in little over two weeks, especially since I’m the first to attend undergraduate school in my immediate family.  Pursuit of a professional degree, an M.D., is just another aspiration I seek to meet in my future!

Cape Week and Senior Week are to come real soon!  I’m excited to leave worries about schoolwork behind for a few weeks and end undergrad with good experiences and a smile on my face.  I’ll be posting again (not sure when) to give a bunch of thank yous to people who’ve been significant to my undergraduate experience.

April 20, 2008

Hey everyone!  This weekend was Prospectives Weekend at the College where students from across the nation came to check out what Holy Cross has to offer.  ASIA performed its annual ExplorASIAn show to celebrate and immerse oneself in Asian and Asian American culture.  The show featured dances such as a traditional lion dance, Chinese fan dance, belly dance, step dance, and hip hop dance.  All were great and entertaining!  The food served was good as well, although I was not able to eat very much because I was busy running around making sure the show would start and run smoothly.  DJ Soulo was on point as always both during the show as well as the after party.  Some pictures of the event and the Hogan Ballroom are attached for all to see.  This also happened to be the final ExplorASIAn that I was a part of, which is another concrete sign that my time at Holy Cross is ending.  However, next year’s ASIA crew looks to be strong, and I’m confident they will excel.

On the academic front, the semester’s coming to a quick close, but it can’t come quick enough!  The thesis is due in the next two or so weeks, my Academic Conference presentation is this coming Friday, and my chemistry departmental presentation is the first day of study period.  After that, I have only one paper and two in class finals that fall on the same day (lucky me).  I’ll try to get it moved so I’m not rushed in one day.

The honors thesis is coming together nicely, along with the conclusion of my research.  I’ve been getting good results of vapor crystallization to form a crystal product from my iron complexes, so all that is left to do is some UV-Vis scans, x-ray crystallography at the University of Akron, elemental analyses, and perhaps cyclic volammetry.  I can’t wait for the conclusion.

Finally, while many seniors express apprehension about the unknowns of post graduation, my opinion is completely opposite.  I do not have a secure job lined up, but my friend did say he would put in a good word for me at his place of employment at a cancer research center in New York, NY.  Even without a secure job, I am sure that the opportunities present within the gates of Holy Cross will be one hundred fold in the “real world” when May 23rd passes on by.  Less than 33 days and counting!

Bigbandmd Decorationspublicitycommittee Explorasianmcs Indiadance Liondancers Seniorsinasia

April 7, 2008

Hi everyone!  I’m currently writing this message from our hotel room in New Orleans, LA right across the street from the Morial Convention Center, where the 2008 National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) is meeting.  The weather’s great, a balmy 75 degrees compared to Worcester’s 30s.  Being at the meeting is seeing chemistry in a new perspective, with professors and scholars, vendors and businesspeople from around the world getting their ideas and products into the minds and hands of all attendees.  Because I have been a research student for the past year, and especially since I did summer research, my research professor thought it would be good if I were exposed to the setting of a national meeting and present my work over the past year in a huge undergraduate poster session lasting two hours.

Being in New Orleans is also a great chance to sample the local cuisines, which has been a treat.  Holy Cross has graciously subsidized all costs of the trip, for which I am certainly thankful to the Department of Chemistry and the Center of Interdisciplinary and Special Studies.  The trip, while motivated by academics, feels just like a second Spring Break, with warm weather and palm trees as you walk down the street.  Visiting the French Quarter and Bourbon St. was also an adventure of its own.  Next year’s convention is set to be in Salt Lake City, Utah, but I’m not sure that will compare to New Orleans’ atmosphere.

Thesis work has been slow lately due to lots of work in the other courses, but I’ve been consistently getting into the lab.  I have made some crystals from an iron complex, which was studied with x-ray crystallography by our collaborator at the University of Akron.  This is exciting because it showed a pure compound; by doing an elemental analysis that involves burning the crystal, we could see if what we theoretically want is what we actually hold.  This would be great news and certainly worthy of publication in a scientific journal.  Hopefully I’ll be getting more crystals and finalizing my last weeks as an undergraduate chemistry research student with a culminating thesis!

March 18, 2008

Hey everyone!  Sorry updates are few and far between, but it seems I’m always on a time crunch!  Hope everyone’s St. Patrick’s Day was great!  Was it actually on Saturday 3.15 or Monday 3.17?  Whatever day it was, people on campus definitely celebrated St. Patrick’s Day.  I’m hoping people had their fun in a safe way.

About 10 days ago was the end of Spring Break 2008.  Three good friends of mine and I road tripped it down to Miami Beach, Florida in my car!  The final trip odometer read 3090.8 miles, which is a healthy chunk of my odometer.  It was quite an experience driving all that distance, not to mention finally arriving in Miami Beach and the great sunny weather.  The temperatures were in the 70s to 80s, with sunny skies, beach weather, and only one day of thunderstorms.  Fortunately, night time was clear so that going out to South Beach nightlife was high and dry.  Being away from the pressures of school and the computer was such a relief!  For your last year in undergraduate school, consider going away to make the best of your final Spring Break!

My chemistry research is going well; syntheses of iron complexes, study of the complex reactivity with 3,5-di-t-butylcatechol, UV-Vis spectroscopy are just a few things that have occupied my time.  In addition, I’ve made some leeway into my honors thesis, which I will work on diligently over the Easter Break so that my time after the break can be spent making steady progress in research and making final edits to the thesis.  Graduation seems to be getting so close!  Last week, seniors got their invitations that they can mail to their family and friends, inviting them to our Commencement.  It’s already the end of March, so I’m getting emails about the Spring Academic Conference at the end of April.  It’s become all too real.

ASIA’s ExplorASIAn show on 4.18.08 is also quickly approaching.  From what I hear, people’s dance performances are looking better than ever!  I can’t wait to be able to see the show all put together, showcasing the talent in all of ASIA’s membership!

February 27, 2008

Hi everyone!  A lot has happened since my last post.  Keeping to my organized science roots, here’s a list with some explanation

  1. January 25, 2008 MCAT results in!  My score was an improvement from last time, and enough so to get me serious consideration from medical schools!  I scored higher than 80 – 84% of testers that day, though I wish the number could have been at a nice even 90%.  I’m not complaining, since the test is now ancient history!  Now I have to gear up for lengthy apps. and prepare myself for the expensive road of applications and interviews.
  2. Started my first iron reaction in months in the research lab.  Use of the glove box, an environment with close to zero oxygen and water vapor, is always interesting and tedious, but unique especially since our school only has one setup, and it happens to be in the Farrell research lab
  3. ’m making some significant progress on my Honors thesis.  With the addition of necessary and helpful pictures, the length of the first chapter is filling up quite quickly and nicely.
  4. ExplorASIAn, ASIA’s biggest event of the academic year, is off to a fast start.  We submitted our budget proposal to the SGA Treasury Reserve Board; hopefully, we get the full funding we requested.
  5. ASIA had its last installment of ASIA Dinners this past Saturday with Vietnamese food.  Next month, we’re going to Chinatown in Boston to eat Dim Sum.
  6. Night Rider continues to run well, except for nights canceled due to snowy weather.  I’ve had no complaints from students, employees, or SGA Services, which is always a good thing!  Night Rider may be undergoing a revamp in the coming year, however.  It’s something I do not necessarily have to obsess over since graduation is less than 90 days away!

Spring Break is just 2 days away!  Check back after break!

February 20, 2008

Success!  After many attempts at synthesizing the one armed dimethyl phenol derivative, another literature synthesis has led me directly to the unsymmetrical dimethyl di-t-butyl derivative after column chromatography and a crystallization from ethanol.  Now it’s a matter of doing this process a couple of times more to get a good amount of ligand in order to continue with iron reactions.  I’ve also started writing the honors thesis required of participants in the College Honors Program.  I’ve got to gauge my audience carefully, since I must accommodate both chemistry and non-chemistry readers.

ASIA is busy with plans for dinners, general membership meetings, and especially ExplorASIAn.  Dance practices have begun, and several individuals are gearing up for solo acts including inspiring testimonials, martial arts expositions, and singing.  The show is less than 60 days away, so that does not leave us with much time to practice!  The budget for the event is also taking form, which is good since we need to request money from the SGA relatively soon.

Less than 100 days until graduation!  Recently seniors celebrated with the annual 100 Days Ball.  Thankfully the bus ride was a fraction of Senior Ball’s ride.  The night was great, seeing most seniors together in one place.  I’m happy and sad at the same time.  I should really begin looking to secure something to do after I graduate.  I keep putting it off expecting to find a job easily, but I know that’s not the case.  Hopefully I can find something to do in New York City

February 8, 2008

Hi everyone.  Last Sunday, I went snowboarding at Waterville Valley in New Hampshire, a good 2 and a half hours away from campus.  It was part of Student Program and Involvement’s Get off the Hill program.  The day was fun; I actually remembered stuff from the last time I snowboarded, which was something like 6-7 years ago!  Unfortunately, I came back with soreness throughout my body.  Up till today, I was battling a cold and fever, which seems to be subsiding some with some medication and increased rest.  Last Sunday was also good because the New York football Giants defeated the team that everyone said could not be beaten, the New England Patriots.  We watched most of the game in HD in the apartment, until the last 2 minutes since the HD signal was a full three seconds behind the regular channel’s signal.  Still a great result!

Chemistry and research continue to go well, although that pesky one armed methyl compound is still a struggle to isolate.  The literature preparation of the methyl t-butyl ligand has also been a disappointment.  Hopefully things improve real soon, because I’d like to get a quick start on iron reactions with ligands.

It is such a relief not to have to study for chemistry class for the first time.  Analytical lab takes some time for pre-lab prep, and more time for post lab writeups, but all in all, there is no stress of studying for that big chem exam on Friday.

ASIA is busy getting ready for its annual culture show, ExplorASIAn, this coming April 18, 2008 in the Hogan Ballroom.  The show should be great, as always, with several dance performances featuring Holy Cross’ best performers, songs, testimonials, and other acts that demonstrate the talents of members of ASIA at Holy Cross.  I believe we’ve set the entrance fee at a nice round $5, which includes a full buffet dinner and a great show.  If you’re reading this and are hearing about ExplorASIAn for the first time, please mark your calendars, come to our show, and show some support!

January 28, 2008

Hi everyone!  It’s been awhile since my last post.  Since then, I did my month of MCAT studying all throughout my Winter Break, so unfortunately I was home for most of the month.  I did manage to go out to my cousin’s house and a friend’s house in Connecticut to break the monotony of studying.  I took the test this past Friday, and it was certainly a challenge.  I took it in New York, NY because there were no Worcester or Boston locations for the test days that I wanted.  I got to go home for a couple of days for final test prep and some good home food.  I’ll know the results in one month, at which point I hope I am not disappointed.  I’m looking forward to getting rid of my MCAT books in some memorable way.  Let me know if you’ve got any good ideas.

I’m a second semester senior now, and things are surely looking like we’re about to get out of here.  Emails from Dean Swigert are reminding us to check our classes for graduation and major requirements.  Another email asked us to apply for graduation and to make sure we provide the school with a phonetic pronunciation of your name to be read on the commencement stage.  Lucky for me, my name is not difficult at all to pronounce.  I have three classes (Classical Mythology, Survey of Computer Science, and Introduction to Music), an overload Analytical Chemistry lab, and Honors Thesis/Chemistry research.  One of the experiments in Analytical Chemistry has us investigate traces of cocaine on dollars bills we handle everyday.  It was funny when the professor was saying how we have to really be careful about not wasting the cocaine (yes the lab has real samples) because it’s too expensive and rare to find.

On the research front, I’m looking forward to getting into the lab more often, and hopefully coming up with some good, concrete data.  By trying new procedures, I am almost done with synthesizing all the ligands I want to react with iron in the air-free glovebox.  Thesis writing should start any day now with a thorough and complete introduction into the project I am working on, its motivations and implications, and why it is important.  I’ll consider both the chemistry faculty and all my College Honors peers as I write my thesis and eventually put together a presentation.  I certainly want to provide enough detail and technical language without abandoning non-chemistry folks.

I’ve got a Facebook application that counts down to whatever day you want.  I made one for Commencement (May 23, 2008), and as of right now, it says there are 116 days left!  So close, yet so far.  Life as an undergraduate has been good, but I’m ready to go on.

December 9, 2007

How’s everyone been?

Now that finals week is here, I’ve been busy getting my materials together for final cram sessions and such.  I have two 15-20 page essays, one of which is almost complete.  The other has yet to be started.  It will be, after my Wednesday chemistry final.  I must say that I’ve been improving on every exam this semester, so it would be great if I could continue the trend and get the grade that I’d like.  Last year, I struggled to study for my chemistry finals in one day, and came out with good results.  I hope that I don’t rely on this attitude for this Wednesday’s test!

Back on the final Friday of the academic semester, the Department of Chemistry had their fall research poster sessions.  It went well, although to be honest, I had not a whole lot of new materials to present.  The separation of the one armed methyl product, which had eluded me for so long, seemed to be confirmed to be separated by looking at a proton NMR.  The first thing next semester, I will get to the lab and try to synthesize that product, which involves steps of rotary-evaporation, distillation via a Kugal Rohr apparatus, and finally silica gel column chromatography.

My Academic Internship with Dr. Vinton effectively ends tomorrow with an observation of a surgery.  Previously, I had seen several knee and shoulder procedures, but my hope is that tomorrow will have something new.  Dr. Vinton says he gets some hip cases in the afternoons, so I’ll be looking forward to seeing one of those procedures.

Five days until I’m free to go home!  Plans: not going anywhere special, unfortunately.  I’ll be studying (what’s new?) for the MCATs this coming January.  If no more entries get posted during the Winter Break, everyone have a great month off!  See ya when I’m a second semester senior!

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