May 13, 2009

update #2

Next year, I will be studying biomedical neuroscience and pharmacology at Boston University School of Medicine. I will have a good salary. I will have health insurance. This is a HUGE relief.

This acceptance was strange beyond belief. My application was discovered the day before the acceptance deadline, long after all the other applicants had been notified. It had been lost. Some very kind faculty called me up and we embarked on a bizarre week-long roller coaster of phone interviews, missed meetings, and extended deadlines before I was finally interviewed - unexpectedly - for a full 3 hours by faculty members. I was offered admission that evening. I accepted the next day. It's a good program. If you want to know more, here's a link.

The faculty members at BU were kind in many ways, but perhaps their greatest kindness was in helping me understand why I was not admitted initially, and why I was not admitted to other schools. As usual, with greater understanding has come greater acceptance of the unease of this spring.

I was honest. I spoke too much about interests other than science. I spoke too much about this year that I've taken off in order to examine my life. I did not "sell" myself. I wrote about my ethical concerns. I did not define a career path. I refused to be certain about what I want to do with my life. I wrote about my distaste for academic hierarchy and pecking order. I tried hard - too hard - to explain who I REALLY am, and it backfired. Instead of coming across as a thoughtful person trying desperately to make a choice that will benefit the world, I came across as a flaky person who could not be relied upon to deal with challenges. They did not trust me to finish the program. They wondered if I really cared about science at all, given how much I spoke about other things.

When I first heard this, I was incredibly frustrated. I put such a lot of effort in to authenticity, and not only did those efforts go unnoticed, I was regarded with great suspicion. Is there no such thing as a scientist with a heart and a mind for ethics? But the frustration faded in to... something else. I don't exactly feel as though I did "the right thing" in writing what I did on my applications - obviously I failed to communicate effectively about myself as a scientist. But neither do I regret not defining a career path or refusing to be certain about where I am going. I will not close doors now... not ever.

Somehow, this will work out.


Anonymous said...

Congrats! I told you things would work out - it always does.

It is always surprising to me how people can come to the wrong conclusion when someone is honest and bares their soul. I'm glad for you that everything got staightened out.


Mel said...

I'm glad it worked out this way - we shouldn't have to market ourselves as something other than we are in order to do something we feel called to do (a thing which may be one of several things we're called for, even simultaneously).

This way, when they admit you, you know they're admitting *all* of you - the Lissa who loves music and saves worms and won't close doors. A place who only wants to excise and develop the part of you that sits in a lab and writes papers is probably not a great fit.

It sounds like you have some great teachers watching out for you at BU. Congratulations. I can only hope I'll do as well finding a great academic home when my turn comes to apply next year.