Tuesday, May 25

Here we are-Ant's on a Log. Ricky was gracious enough to take my place so I could take pictures. Andy found this river while we were playing volley ball. Good times, good times.

Thoughts from Camp

Hello Scholars and Lynn,

So I miss all of you and I am wondering how everything is going in Illnois.

I am sure your brains are on overload but you must be strengthening semi-new relationships and meeting new people as well. It is my hope that at least one of you, or preferably many of you, will add comments to this post and let me know how you are doing.

Take care. Oh, and I do know you are in Indiana, just kidding with you.

Sunday, May 23

Web Surfin' and Crawler Pickin'

If only the McNair scholars could see me now with dirt under my fingernails.

I had been sitting at the computer for hours searching for GRE vocabulary builder games online to make their studying a bit more enjoyable. Alan was outside doing God only knows what when he came in the house looking for an empty butter container, at 11:45pm mind you, and apparently he was catching his own bait for his upcoming fishing trip.

He was crawler pickin' in the moonlight, you know, you walk across the wet grass with the light of a flashlight partially concealed until you happen upon a slimy body glistening against the grass. You reach your hand out quick at lightning to nab the little guy before he darts back into his/her hole, and then slowly, patiently pull him from the ground.

Of course after hours at the computer, even crawler pickin' sounds fun so what did I do? I followed Alan out to the back yard and showed off my crawler pickin' talents. I proved to be quite talented in that department. I will have to keep that in mind if the economy doesn't pick up and I need a steady job.

Lost story short, I filled a butter tub full of crawlers tonight annnnnndddddd found several good resources for the scholars to check out when they return.

Friday, May 21

Body Check

Yesterday I did the high ropes course. I only felt panic once (well, maybe twice) and it was mild. Just before stepping onto the hanging beams of death (or so I call them) I felt my breath catch in my throat. It went well though, all things considered (my fear of heights, my age, my lack of physical exercise over the latter part of spring semester...). I guess that experience goes to show that MANY times we are more limited by what we tell ourselves we are not capable of achieving opposed to physical and age limitations.

Today I am pleased to say that I am not feeling much discomfort, only a little in my triceps, but tomorrow will be the real test. If you are reading this blog, let us know how you are feeling today.

Wednesday, May 19

Year 1 Completed/What I Have Learned

On May 6th I completed my first year of doctoral study at CMU.

Along the way I reflected on the process of graduate school often and have come to the conclusion that it is not a question of whether I am CAPABLE of earning a Ph.D, instead, what am I willing to sacrifice to be a member of the 1% of the population who reach that level of education? Am I willing to sacrifice adequate sleep, exercise, balanced meals, personal time... apparently. What am I not willing to sacrifice, my family. My children are an amazing reminder that there is life outside academia. They help keep me centered and striving for balance.

Have I found balance? It depends on which part of the semester you ask me, "Maureen, do you have balance in your life." Reply: (beginning of first semester) "Why, yes, I do have balance in my life. I am a mother, spouse, employee, mentor, student... and I am home to cook dinner every night." (end of first semester) "Ummm... not currently but I will take what I have learned from this experience and apply it to achieving better overall balance next semester."

Sometimes life gets in the way of preparation: (second semester) "Balance, what is balance? I was sick for two weeks over Christmans break and began the semester already tired, got behind mid-semester due to many variables beyond my control and played catch up the remainder of the semester. I slept little the last 4 weeks, very little exercise, on campus many evenings...." No balance there.

Determination and acceptance go a long way in helping you achieve balance on the way to reaching your goals. I am determined to use part of my summer to prepare for fall semester so I can be at home most evenings to cook dinner and listen to my children chat about their days and I will accept that there is likely no such thing as perfect balance in life. Life is ever changing, just when you think you have found balance, your dog vomits on the pant leg of your suit as you are leaving in the morning thereby setting in motion a chain of events that delays all scheduled activities for the day causing you to miss lunch and evening exercise.

Note to self: A doctoral program takes a great deal of commitment. Just accept that there will be times of imbalance and learn from those times. What are you willing to sacrifice and what are you unwilling to sacrifice? When you get a break, reflect on what you can do to achieve greater balance the next time around.

Monday, May 17

Learning Opportunities

So we are off and running! On paper it looks like there is a full summer in store for you, and it is a busy time, but "judging" by the way everyone contributed today and maintained a positive attitude, you are on track to make it a memorable experience.

Taking the MBTI is an eye opener, not because I learned something shocking about myself but because it affirms that people can challenge themselves, step outside their preferences to become more extraverted (introverted), thinking (feeling), etc... If at first it is not comfortable to step outside our preferences, with practice, with experience, we can get to a point where we are truly "in the middle." It is difficult to remember why I used to have trouble starting a conversation (my former introverted self) but now I feel that I could talk to anyone but still long for my alone time (extraverted <- ME -> introverted).

Isn't it amazing that life provides us so many learning opportunities. I learned today that I am in the middle on several "type" dimensions but I also learned that I do not, and should not, take advantage of ALL carbohydrate opportunities offered throughout the SRI. That final milk and cookie opportunity was one I should have passed on.

Sunday, May 16

Cheers to a great summer - and, we're off!

Welcome to the CMU McNair Scholar Blog! This will be a place for sharing ideas during what I'm sure will be a productive summer experience. It is an honor to work with each of you as you begin your graduate school journey. Our intention is to support you in every way possible and to ultimately see you achieve great success! Besides engaging in your research, the biggest goal of the summer is to arrive at a good mix of schools that you believe will result in a suitable match for you. This will require great exploration, patience and hard work. It also requires a belief that it can be done and will be done. As long as you are putting forth honest effort - you will find the right path for you. Stay tuned!