Grad School Already...Wait What!?
So if you consistently read my blog, you may be getting to the point where you’re saying to yourself, “This kid always talks about Case as one of the best choices he has made and blah, blah, blah.” Well although it may be annoying it is the truth. Currently as I am writing this, I am in Austin, Texas hanging out in a hotel lobby, enjoying the complementary services provided by the hotel. You may be wondering how I ended up in Texas when I go to school in Cleveland, Ohio and still call my hometown Buffalo, New York. Well to answer your question, I am here because I have a poster presentation at the BMES annual meeting this weekend. If you do not know what BMES is, that is okay; I had not a clue coming into college. BMES stands for the Biomedical Engineering Society, I will not go into too much detail, but look it up its some cool stuff. It is a way of networking between other biomedical engineers and yearly they have a meeting at some exotic location (thus Austin, Texas. I believe next year’s is in Connecticut). The best part of the entire thing is that I am here for “free” and everything about this trip is a learning and personally growing experience for myself.
So at this point, you may be wondering, “Why of all people is Alex there?” and “How do you manage something like that?” Well it is pretty simple, as a freshman I took advantage of a lab opening that was offered through one of my classes, BME 105 and with that, I was able to get involved in a lab setting and even do some of my own research over the summer and get paid! Yes I know this doesn’t happen to everybody, but I’m really nothing all that different than average. All I really did was take advantage of the opportunities laid out in front of me.
I started writing this blog halfway through my trip, and I am now finishing it on the plane ride home, and I have to say that was a very rewarding trip. I arrived in Austin on Wednesday night and am now on my way back to Cleveland on Saturday. This morning was my poster presentation that I have been working on over the last month or so. This picture shows me standing next to my poster in the exhibit hall.
As you can see, I blurred the poster for privacy reasons; if you are interested I can email you my abstract
On purpose I set my expectations very low, I mean who wants to listen to an inexperienced sophomore talk about his summer research project? As it turns out, my expectations were shattered and my poster was visited by 10-12 people who were legitimately interested in what I had to say (I was expecting 1-2, I was warned about having a low turnout just because it was the last day of the conference). It is very cool when you are able to have an intelligent conversation with an MIT graduate student about the research that I have been doing.
One last thing I noticed about this conference was the name recognition Case Western brings to an event like that. It was pretty standard that all introductions at the event involved an exchange of names, schools and what your research was about. One thing that was consistent across the board was that every time I mentioned I went to Case Western, whoever I was talking to either gave a nod of approval or recognized the caliber school Case was verbally. They immediately took whatever I had to say that much more seriously because Case Western has a reputation for great research and students.
I really have to thank my lab director as well as the grad student I have been working with over these months for getting me all the way to Austin, Texas this weekend. Honestly these things are possible if you take on a few challenges at a place like Case that leaves opportunity on the table for everyone (even undergraduates) to have a shot at. I cannot wait to attend my next BMES.