Similar to Tomika, I attended the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators conference in Philadelphia during Spring Break. As a member of the preconference committee, I was responsible for selecting programs for this portion of the convention. I attended a session by Dr. Frank Harris and Dr. Shaun Harper examining issues facing college men. This session coincided with one of my research areas which examine the social construction of masculinity and male identity development. A few days later, I presented a session with colleagues from Bowling Green State University, University of Michigan, University of Georgia examining the experiences of Black doctoral students at predominantly White institutions. Approximately 80 people attended the session. At the conclusion of the conference, I spent a few days in New Jersey and New York before heading back to Indiana.
For someone who wants to study ancient Greece, there are two academic options: ancient history or Classics. By training, I am both a Classicist and an ancient historian, with degrees from both departments, but there IS a distinction, and today I was reminded by my students why it matters to me.
I am currently a doctoral student in ancient history, and so my primary teaching appointment is in the Department of History, where I am serving this semester as a TA for a large survey course in ancient Greek history. Today’s class discussion was about the ancient Greek historian Thucydides, who wrote a contemporary history of the great war that took place in the 5th century BC between Athens and Sparta, and it resulted in undergraduates speaking intelligently about such topics as the Cold War, Iran, the legality of American foreign policy, the ongoing revolution in Egypt, and the modern debate over the death penalty. They observed with a casual easiness that the democratic Athenians chose to support an oligarchic government, a form of rule they did not endorse, in the Greek island state of Lesbos, because that government was friendly to their own Athenian empire. And they noted that when a subsequent democratic revolution in Lesbos altered the status quo and turned the Athenians against the oligarchs, their former allies, that this resembled the United States’ strained relationships with Saddam Hussein and Hosni Mubarak.
Understanding history is about making connections, and these are just the sorts of connections I want to see them contemplating. History is relevant. Everything has a context and a set of influencing factors. Human behavior has not altered as much as each new generation wants to believe. Our students are learning to think critically about the past and to use their knowledge of the present to understand it, and it is our ultimate goal as historians to help them eventually use their knowledge of the past to understand the present and to think critically about the world around them today.
I am passionate about the Classical tradition and its preservation, and I value and appreciate the work that Classics professors and TAs do in teaching students Greek and Latin language, literature, art history and civilization, but today, I am reminded that the remnants of the past do not exist simply to be pondered for their own sake. Today, I am an ancient historian.
I just realized I am a doctoral student. Although this may sound crazy, it is a new concept to me. My entire life has been preparation for me to be successful in academia and now I am in the in final stretch to accomplishing my dream of being Dr. Tomika. It no longer is scary to me, it just seems exciting, challenging, overwhelming, and other adjectives I can’t think of right now. This ephiphany all started when I began to clean out my Outlook IU email. As I started to delete the thousands of emails I thought I would be unable to live without during my master’s program, I found an email that sparked a research idea. I set up a meeting with a faculty member who I had a class with a few semesters ago and ran the idea by him. He liked it and challenged me to develop the idea even more and to consider a future publication. As a doctoral student, I have the ability to reach out for support and receive it. That is just the kind of university that IU is. It encourages and produces exceptional and groundbreaking scholarship and research in every field. The challenge will be to carve out time in my already crazy, slightly overwhelming schedule to develop this idea more. Yet, I am so excited about the opportunity to potentially generate research related to something that I am very passionate about.
Last time, I blogged about my 2011 New Year resolutions, in that spirit I decided to go back and review my first 18 months as a PhD student in Bioinformatics at Indiana University-Bloomington (IU). Among the many components of being a PhD student (e.g. courses, research, teaching, and community involvement) I will attempt to “impartially” review my performance across each component during that time.
My goals for my first year were: 1) take as many required courses as possible, 2) pick an advisor, and 3) develop a strong application for external funding. Looking back I must admit that fortunately these goals turn out to be met in their entirety. First, in my courses, I learned a great deal and performed at a high level in all of my classes. Additionally, I was able to cross out 8 course requirements, which put me in great shape to finish all course requirements by Spring 2011. However, on the downside, I think I spent too much time on classes which is something that I need to balance out as I become fully involve in my research projects. Second, I did two research rotations, picked my advisor and started working on several research projects. Finally, the fellowship application I worked on with the assistance of many people got me an external fellowship, thus, securing funding for the next three years!!
In terms of teaching, I was not required to work as an Academic Instructor (aka Teaching Assistant), however, I took a pedagogy and professionalism course, where I learned many valuable lessons of how to approach teaching in an efficient manner. The two most significant techniques I leaned in this course and that will shape my courses design in the years to come were: 1) the backward design technique and 2) classroom assessment techniques. Regrettably, my community involvement during my first was non-existent which I considered to be unacceptable. Since then I have been more involved in the community by enrolling as a Emissary for Graduate Diversity for IU’s Graduate School Office, as well as participating in many events across campus.
Finally, my first year and a half at IU has been quite successful and enriching. Furthermore, I have enhanced my professional skill-set, while identifying areas where I need to improve as I keep maturing and moving forward as an Informatics PhD student.
It is a new year and we (grad students) make resolutions too! This is my last semester of taking classes, so I am really excited about that. Anyway, here is my list of academic and personal goals for 2011: 1) move to my new office space, 2) engage on a 10k running plan, 3) work no less than 14 hours a day, 4) get more involve with undergraduates organizations, 5) publish at least 2 papers. Some of these goals are more ambitious than others; however, I consider them to be quite simple. It has only been a month since New Year’s celebration and I have already made significant advances on each goal. The key thing is, as Brian said in his post, to celebrate every step because those little victories are the ones that give you the strength to keep moving forward and closer to your ultimate goal.
All master of public health students are required to complete an internship in the last semester of the MPH program. I plan to work on several sexual health promotion projects at the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University Bloomington. For instance, one of the first goals is to complete the abstract for the 2011 Caribbean AIDS Conference. I plan to present on the major health challenges and issues facing Dominicans and Haitian immigrants at the Highlands of the Dominican Republic. The conference will help me connect with top HIV/AIDS scholars and professionals in the region. I am also taking two law school courses this semester and I need to allocate enough time for reading and case analysis!
I decided to spend my Christmas break exploring the highlands of the Dominican Republic and the major public health challenges facing the region. I first decided to contact some of the stakeholders in the community, including community leaders, pastors, and community based organizations. Community based participatory model was used in order to explore and draft a potential intervention project in the region. The main goal of my trip was to document the issues and public health challenges in the community: lack of information and education in regards HIV/AIDS, sexual behavior putting people at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other STIs, lack of regulations and policies to address the concerns of the population in regards to public health issues.
All of the stakeholders mentioned the lack of public health infrastructure as well as the lack of an epidemiology HIV/AIDS surveillance system. It is hard to track the numbers of HIV/AIDS in the region since there is no a reliable public health infrastructure in place and the region lacks of public health professionals. Many doctors and public health practitioners have migrated to the capital or have decided to practice abroad.
Please find some of the pictures from my trip documenting some of the issues affecting the region as well as some of my experiences: poverty level, living conditions and meetings with community leaders, including doctors and pastor. I plan to work on a proposal intervention project that will include a HIV/AIDS Awareness Campaign in the highlands of the Dominican Republic. I am also planning to present the issues and intervention proposal at the 2011 Caribbean AIDS Conference. You can always contact me if you want to find about more about this initiative!!!!!!