The Next Three to Five

Another typical Thursday night. I’m in my office, doing homework. The unusual part is that this is my last homework assignment of the academic year and thus of my master’s program. That’s right: by this time next week, I will have fulfilled all the requirements to earn a master’s in statistics! Yay!

My graduation is in mid-June, only about two and a half weeks from now. My brother, sister, and parents are all coming in to see me walk across the stage. My brother will only be able to stay for the weekend of graduation, but my parents and sister will stick around for an extra few days so we can take a mini-vacation, probably to a nearby lake or national park (and by nearby, I mean two to four hours away by car).

Of course, the story doesn’t end there. If only it were that simple. I spent a good portion of the last year debating if I want to pursue a Ph.D. or not. With all the high hopes my advisor has for me and all the opportunities that my advisor has given me (and continues to give me), it’s difficult to walk away from continuing to work with him for the next three to five years.

Therefore, I’m not walking away. My advisor is jointly appointed between the statistics and environmental science departments, so when I was applying for Ph.D. programs, I was given the option to choose to earn my Ph.D. in either department. After a lot of debate (with myself), I eventually decided to pursue a Ph.D. in environmental science instead of statistics. Since I will still have the same advisor, I will undoubtedly do Ph.D. level statistics research either way. However, as part of the environmental science department, I will get to learn where my data comes from and how it was measured. In a sense, I will become a more complete scientist, rather than just a data analyst.

After my week off with my family after graduation (and after attending a wedding in North Carolina the following weekend), I will be right back to work at Prestigious University for the summer, getting a head start on my Ph.D. research.

In other academic related news, remember that I was preparing over last summer to be the TA for a new class that my advisor was teaching? The class was last term (January – March), and it was a huge hit! I worked extremely hard (one big reason why my blog posts are so sparse this year), but it all paid off: I won a teaching assistant award! Yay! There will be an award luncheon/ceremony the day before graduation where I will receive a certificate and a modest sum of money. My family is visiting a day early so they can all attend the luncheon too!

I’ve been a teaching assistant for many years, but I had never won an award before. There was only one teaching assistant award given in the entire environmental science department for the whole academic year, and I was the lucky winner. Not a bad way to start my Ph.D.!


Dr. Brother

My brother graduated from medical school last weekend! He’s a doctor now! I took a redeye flight Friday night to arrive early Saturday morning so I could spend the weekend with him and attend his graduation ceremony. The only other time I had been there was when I helped my brother move in for medical school four years ago!

My parents and sister also flew in to see my brother graduate. The last time we were all together was nearly a year ago, when we went to Disneyland for Father’s Day. It’s also been many years since my whole family has taken a vacation together; it’s usually a big ordeal even just to get all five of us together for one day at home.

My parents and sister were staying in town longer than I was (because my schedule is less flexible than theirs), so my brother tried to cram in as much sight-seeing and landmark hopping as possible. I didn’t sleep much on the plane, so the nonstop walking and adventuring left me exhausted the whole weekend. I had a great time though; I took a lot of great pictures.

The graduation ceremony was wonderful. I’m so proud and happy that my brother is an MD! He doubted himself so many times over the years, often regretting his decision (that he made seven years ago!) to leave his stable but unfulfilling job for the far more difficult road of medicine. He gave up his job and moved far away from his family and friends to pursue his dream (that none of us knew he had). He wanted to drop out of medical school so many times, always thinking he couldn’t cut it (no pun intended).

But now he’s a doctor! Not only that, but he matched with his top choice for residency! Even with all his doubts, he made it! Yay!

My Cousin’s Graduation

My cousin’s graduation was fun. Well, the ceremony was a little long and boring, but the commencement speeches were good. Since I had just received my master’s degree at the end of last year, a lot of the inspirational words in the speeches could be applied to me as well.

A lot of my family attended my cousin’s graduation. Eight of us, to be exact. I felt a little bitter that no one from my family went to my master’s graduation, but I got over it pretty quickly. The circumstances were different (it would have been very expensive for my family to fly up to Canada with me), and I still had a blast celebrating my graduation with my friends from graduate school. Besides, my cousin’s graduation shouldn’t be about me at all; it was his day.

Family gatherings are always events that last all day, so I’m pretty tired now. I have to get up early too, since my mom is going on a business trip to China tomorrow. My dad, brother, and I will be seeing her off at the airport in the morning. Time for a good night’s sleep!

Thanksgiving Graduation

Graduation was fun. The ceremony was pretty short; it only took about an hour. The pictures my friends took of the ceremony are not very good, but it’s completely the fault of the distance from the stage and the lighting of the auditorium. I guess my camera takes some blame as well, since I chose a smaller, cuter camera over a more powerful camera that could take professional pictures by having much more zoom and stronger flash. I did get some good pictures of me with my friends after the ceremony, so it’s not a big deal. I also had the obligatory professional graduation photos taken so that my parents can buy them and feel less guilty for not coming to my graduation.

Today is also (American) Thanksgiving. It’s just another day in Canada (I’m pretty sure schools in the US don’t hold graduation ceremonies on Thanksgiving), so it’s hard to find a good turkey dinner. Instead, my friends and I went to Swiss Chalet for dinner. For the last three years (this year makes four), I have gone to Swiss Chalet on American Thanksgiving. During the holidays, they offer a “Festive Special,” which upgrades the usual “Quarter Chicken Dinner” with stuffing, cranberry sauce, and a small box of chocolate truffles. Even though I didn’t get turkey, chicken is almost the same, and the stuffing is my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal anyway.