Tuesday, May 8, 2007

University - Part 2

After a short month with a lumber company in Frenscot, we got jobs with a temporary agency called Manpower. They had an onsite office at a manufacturing facility called Procter and Gamble. Even though it was a temporary agency we could be assured full time work if we wanted it, or part time. So we worked out there full time for the summer, fished alot, cruised the country side, and enjoyed each other's company.

When school began, I cut my hours to part time so I could concentrate on my studies. God, if I could have foreseen the problems it was going to cause, I would be almost inclined to have either not gone back to school or left for California. But like I tried to explain to Tabitha, if I didn't go to school, the little education I have now would be for nothing. Also, finishing my degree will certainly pay off one day. I told her I couldn't work full time, because I had to study at least a little. I mean, I was a pre-med major. My grades weren't that hot, so I needed to preserve what I had and try to do a little better, or I could kiss the dream of being a physician good bye permanently.

During November, the middle part of the month, our precious daughter to be was first conceived. July 8th, 1997 is indeed the happiest day of my life. Sure, I was extremely tired, even exhausted. I had stayed up the night before. But this day, our little bundle of pure joy came into this world, to share it with us. I can remember Tabitha holding her, Elizabeth's large perky eyes darting around the room. I can't even imagine how she was interpreting all of it. She was so beautiful. Seven pounds and eight ounces and nineteen inches long. She had a head full of beautiful brown hair. It was a thrill. For once, I had something definite to live for.

About six months after Elizabeth's birth, Tabby and I starting arguing more. Usually just little things. But at times, there were some major issues. Our biggest issue was probably money. It's not like I didn't care or anything, I knew everything would work out okay. It seems she wanted me to quit school and work full time. Like I've told her a million times, it's a little more complicated than that. If I did quit school, it would take me that much longer to start earning at a higher potential. I would be stuck working in a factor for the rest of my life. In the long run, nobody would win. If we just kept on what we were doing, we would be okay. And we were okay.

She usually always worked full time. I worked part time, went to school full time. I also received pell grants and was able to borrow as an independent student because I was a military veteran. So what did this do for me? It made the expected family contribution stay nearly the same, and aloud me to borrow more unsubsidized loans as an independent student. Big mistake. From then on my loan bill kept growing staggeringly high. It almost seemed exponential.

From then until fall of 2000 everything seemed okay. I graduated with my bachelors degree in December 1999. It took two and one half of another year to complete (since I began in fall of 93, If I had went straight through without any detours, I would have graduated in spring 97), but considering what I had went through, it was quite an accomplishment. I withdrew at least one semester, possibly two during this time. I also had enough hours to be whats known as a double major. It would have been both biology and chemistry. But the major in biology and minor in chemistry suited me just fine.

I began taking some graduate courses during my last semester as an undergraduate. It gave me somewhat of a head start. The following spring semester of 2000 was my first full semester of graduate studies. I spent this time thinking about what I could possibly work on as a thesis. I was interested in so many ideas, but nothing in particular just stood out from the rest. I wasn't just gung-ho on anything. I started thinking maybe I shouldn't be in this field then. But no, that's not right. Because I haven't been gung-ho about anything since my breakdown on 12-14-90. I have been driven with a hunger for contentment all these years. Contentment is enough for me.

I was also awarded a graduate teaching assistantship that semester. Usually, graduate teaching assistants help with labs, or supervise their own section of a lab. Some also hold recitations (where students ask assistant about core concepts from class). I was a graduate assistant for Dr. Roger Crowsland for his ZO 200 course. It was an introductory zoology course. We covered most of the animal phyla and even some of the phyla that animal-like protists were in. We went from the most simple to complex, highlighting major evolutionary steps in body plans and functions. It was a really neat course. I remember when I took it as an undergrad.

As a graduate teaching assistant, I would go to the lecture and attend his lab section (to get an idea of how to do mine and also help with his). I did notice that quite a lot of times he would lecture for about thirty minutes the first part of the lab. Man, I thought, I'm not a damned professor, yet. How am I expected to lecture well enough on these subjects. Actually, I performed rather well. The students say they got more out of my lecture than they did his. I even devised my own laboratory tests and practicals, which were much more indicative of what they actually learned, as opposed to worrying about potential "trick" questions, which Dr. Crowsland was known for.

For the most part, I had fun that semester. I even got paid a stipend (and tuition was waved). It amounted to about ten to twelve dollars an hour. It wasn't bad at all.
That summer, I think I may have went back to work for manpower until the fall semester began, for which I was supposed to lead another section of Dr. Crowsland's zoology laboratory. I may have taken some courses, as well, but I'm not sure so I'll have to check records at a later time. Things were well until September of that same year.

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