Thursday, August 22, 2013

This blog entry is going to be a first since it will be written by Papa Roli detailing the events of college life now that it has finally come to an end. This will be a rather informal letter since I presently have 3 children throwing orange peels in my face and have used up the remaining glial cells I had over the last 2 months so brain functions are in survival mode. 

It all started when the Lord called us out of the Navy and into the land of palm trees and sandy beaches in 2009. With no idea of what was happening, where I would go to school, or what the future held, we packed up the vehicle with our two children and headed off to orange county, CA. 

I enrolled at orange coast college that fall and decided to pursue a degree in pre-physical therapy. I planned to eventually transfer to cal state and continue with my education since they also had a phd program for PT. I had to take the english/math placement test and remember about 30 other students there as well. The exam lasted about 1.5 hours. Here is where the fun began.

I was placed in basic algebra due to my "einsteinian" math abilities. I also placed into college english which was one of my better subjects in high school. I graduated from a small high school in northern minnesota where I do believe I managed to learn as little as possible. I never advanced past algebra 1 and never took 2 years of a foreign language. I was told that I could take a world foods class to fulfill that requirement and what guy wouldn't want to eat instead of learning french? As a result of my educational prowess in minnesota I was clueless as to what was going to happen in college but I knew that college algebra was as high as I wanted to take because I hated math and wanted to avoid scary looking hieroglyphics and greek letters. 

The first semester I took geography, communication, and ethics. I have always loved any class that is ONLY memorization, so these classes were fairly simple for me. Next semester I took math, english, cross cultural something rather, and pre-chemistry. The math class was well suited for a 10 year olds math comprehension so I made it out alive, cross cultural class was from a chilean with an accent heavier than si off the show duck dynasty so I just played on the ipad during her lectures. Pre-chem was scary in that she was talking all this nonsense about orbitals, valence electrons, and molar mass. I was about to walk out of that class but then I saw an image of my children poor and destitute on the sidewalk begging for food so I stayed. Finally, engwrish. My best class in high school, all you gotta do is read and write in your native tongue, CAKE. Um, no. I wrote up my first paper and received a D. My worst grade in college thus far and I was shocked. Apparently there is a thing called MLA and APA format that you are supposed to follow. Also, the professors don't like free writing which is what I am doing now and I think it's awesome but they didn't. I was able to stubbornly subdue my free writing grandeur, and adhere to their silly guidelines and move on to the next semester. 

Summer 2010- Here I decided to take my next math class, pre-algebra, and psychology. I went hard since the summer sessions are always condensed and while the teachers were both nice, the psychology class was a bunch of tricky word games on the exams. I actually preferred the straightforward approach of the math class and finished out the summer with a year under my belt. In the fall I took another psychology, college algebra, history, and political science. Psych is psych so it stayed the same, and the history class was a dry as a fossil but pretty easy. I want to talk about the poli sci and algebra class...

Poli sci was taught by an ex marine who was a Christian conservative and let all the liberals know it. By far the most entertaining class I have ever had and he made showing up to class an experience. He would banter with liberals to the point they would walk out of his class, and loved to make people laugh. I would go back today and pay just to sit in his class rather than a comedy show. The algebra class was a different story, I showed up and after having two math classes prior was pretty solid in algebra but had no idea how this would go. Since most kids START with this class it was pretty laid back and easy and so after getting a 98 on the first exam I stopped showing up to class. The professor said he never took attendance and so I figured I would just show up and take all the exams and the final. Well apparently most of the class had the same idea and he changed his policy when I was absent so by the time I figured out what happened I had missed too many classes and he wasn't going to pass me even though I had a high grade. I had no other choice but to withdraw, lesson learned. Never skip on a day a professor changes the policy...

Spring 2011- Transferred to Vanguard University after learning that the Cal states were in a mess financially and there would be a year waiting list just to get into the PT program. No thanks. Vanguard had a pre-pt program so I transferred over and enjoyed the Christian environment they offered. I started with general chemistry, another psych, sociology, pre-calculus, and a bible class. Yes, apparently if you go to an assembles of God school they want you to add 5 Bible courses. I was able to test into pre-calc so that saved me from my last math experience, and ended up in the top of the class. Chemistry was ridiculous, spending time in lecture, lab, and 3 hours a day studying and doing the online mastering chemistry homework. Oh well, one more semester of that nonsense and I'll be done with chemistry forever! Yay!

Summer 2011- Took chem 2 in 6 weeks. Why? I don't know. 3 hours of lecture, 5 hours of lab + studying. Oh yeah, and an elective fitness class where I got to work out...tasty college life. Then after that I enrolled at Golden west college in huntington beach for an intensive anatomy class. Why? Because I saw that image again... 8 hours a day, 950 page workbook, but I will never forget what a proximal convoluted tubule is. 

Fall- I took another psych, physiology, movement anatomy, a health class, and another bible class. Little did I know that the Lord would call us up to seattle after this semester...

The move- Literally in the blink of an eye we moved up to seattle and I transferred to the only school I could get into that quick which was Northwest University, another assemblies of God school in Kirkland just minutes from the house where we were staying. The awesome part was, they didn't offer a pre-physical therapy degree. It was either graduate on time (summer '13) with the pre-med biology or take another year with the general bio track. I had to get out of college asap so I regretfully drug my feet to my first semester of pre-med. 

Spring '12- I learned that I will have to take much harder classes, and also for another 2 summers which means no break. I was so thrilled. I enrolled in old testament history, APA research writing, microbiology, and genetics. Now, if you do not know, genetics is an upper level, senior level class. They assume that you have already taken all your science classes and have a handle on the material somewhat. It is also know as one of, if not the hardest class you can take in college. I would wake up at 4am some mornings before the exams and still would barely pass the death exams that were 6 questions long with parts a/b/c/d/e/f/g, no study guides, no bueno. How I survived I have no idea, mendel can go eat some peas...

Summer '12- Yay for another summer filled with BBQ's and relaxation! Not. I enrolled in 2 bible classes online and intensive organic chemistry at bellevue college. The bible classes were about 2 hours of work a day so not too bad but I showed up to Orgo and after a week I withdrew. No way I could do three classes, when orgo takes up your life and soul. 

Fall'12- Met my best college buddy paul who is the asian version of me and we hit it off immediately. He lived on campus and would feed me often and we would play FIFA and Madden to get our minds off the studies. I took physics 1, cell/molecular biology, general biology, environmental science, and scientific cross cultural. All of these classes came with labs...death. Nothing like taking everything backwards too, I haven't even taken calculus and I am taking calc-based physics.

Spring '13- I can almost taste the diploma. Physics 2, general bio 2, integration and development, biochemistry (before ochem?) and I enrolled in calculus online at san francisco state because NU only offered it in the fall...the online was great, a ton of homework and only 2 quizzes, a midterm, and a 4 hour final that you had to have a proctor for, but I did really well so apparently math is my thing now?

Summer '13- NU let me walk on graduation day, but I still had a 15-20 page research paper to write since I couldn't go on the class trip to Haiti because of the birth of Finnean was so close to that time. I also had to take my last bible class and organic chem. NU thought about offering it, which got me all excited because I didn't want to go to BC again but they decided against it (too much work for the professor) and I enrolled in BC for the last class of my undergrad. 

Summer of Death- I was able to knock out 80% of my online class in a week, writing a paper a day and completing other assignments because I knew what was coming... It was a delicious 25ÂșC when I gathered my 4 textbooks for organic chemistry, kissed my wife and kids goodbye and headed out to undertake the hardest class known to man. Granted, some will argue that there are classes that are conceptually harder, or more abstract, but nothing compares to the work load that is involved with intensive organic chemistry. We are talking about 5 days a week in class from 11am-3pm for lecture and 315-530 for lab. A chapter a day, with an exam of that chapter the following morning, plus quizzes online at night, lab reports + notebook, lab quizzes, lab practicals, a final every 2.5 weeks, and an ACS final that culminates it all before your last ochem 3 final. There are no days off, there are no weekends, there is no time for facebook, shopping, gassing up the truck, watching tv, clipping your toenails, shaving your beard, or seeing the sunlight. 20% of the class failed each semester and some students immediately switched their major. If you can make it through this class, you can make it through any class. 

Breakdown of an average day: Wake up at 6am. Shower and start studying for the exam at 11am. Catch the bus at 10am and study on the bus on the way to class. Take the exam at 11am. Take notes and pay attention as the instructor flies through the chapter. Most of the students have already taken ochem over the course of a regular year, some 2-3 times. Eat lunch while studying during the lectures and working on the supplemental material. 15 minute break to breathe and then lab starts. 2+hour lab everyday and after lab was completed, head out to the study room to write up a 2-3 page lab report of the experiment that was just conducted. After that was completed, take the online quiz of the material that was presented that day. After that, write up a 3-6 page prelab in your lab notebook for the next day. Catch the bus home, devour food, pass out, wake up and repeat...for 8 weeks. At a minimum I was going for 12 hours a day and at my max was doing 20. My skin was whiter than elmer's glue, I was out of touch with reality, but I knew that failure was not an option. At times I didn't know if it was possible, I had thoughts of doubt, but the Lord gave me the strength to push on. He always knew the plan He had for me and my family and knew I was capable of achieving more than what I thought was possible. As we now wait to see what the next step is, whether its a Naval officer or something else, we have learned so much over these 4 years, and have grown so much as a family. I can now breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy life with my kids for a short time before I have to be a grown up and get a job to support my family. I am also thankful for such an amazing wife who can hold the house together by herself at times when I am absent. Without her help, I couldn't do the things that I have accomplished. 

Always look for ways to serve others, surround yourself with Godly people, and they will encourage you to seek His will and achieve the impossible. For not one thing is impossible with God, but without Him, life is meaningless. 

Here is a snippet of my work...