Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Well November has come and gone, and the semester is almost over. I'm going to need father time to take a chill pill or five because my time in New Orleans is flying by. Our two blocks this month were the renal block and the pulmonary block. I made it out to Kipp three times this month. My first two trips were comprised of the continued perfection of my filing abilities. Our group was placed upstairs in an administrative office (more like a large closet full of filing cabinets, though) and we were put to work. Every student at Kipp has a folder in that room and it was our job to place a sheet of paper with updated contact information, allergy information, and other fun facts in each students file. Not the most mentally stimulating task but it frees up time for the administrators and teachers to focus on more important things so we were happy to oblige.

My third trip to Kipp, on Friday the 18th, was definitely the most thrilling. This time a few of our group were tasked with cleaning out some nasty refrigerators that hadn't been cleaned all semester but luckily a few other and me got there early and were able to take charge of the arts and crafts directive. It was our responsibility to cut and assemble several large floor-to-ceiling length paper Christmas trees. Getting the proportions and dimensions right was actually more challenging than some might imagine but nevertheless we were able to accomplish our goal. We used green construction paper for the tree and brown construction paper for the trunk. This was the perfect task to have on the session before Thanksgiving break and really kicking off the holiday season. This is my final blog post of the semester but I will acquire a few more volunteering hours in December which I will update at the bottom of this blog post.

Volunteering Hours for November:
Kipp: 6 hrs

Volunteering Hours for December:
Kipp: 2 hrs

Cumulative Volunteering Hours:
31 hrs

Friday, October 28, 2016

October has been an eventful month! We had one of our biggest blocks yet covering the autonomic nervous system and the cardiovascular system, and we take our next exam over the renal block on November 1. The ANS/CV block was pretty extensive but one of the coolest features was our CV simulation lab. We gathered in a mock hospital room and "spoke and treated" an interactive dummy. We had to ask the dummy questions about his lifestyle, any drugs he was taking, etc. and then had to make therapeutic decisions based on his answers and the ECG reading. It was truly an interesting experience and was a great way to apply much of the knowledge we learned that block in a clinical setting.

I have been continuing my volunteering at Kipp on Fridays this month, although I only made it twice. I had to leave town one weekend to attend my aunt's wedding in Austin so I missed one session then and then another Friday this month Kipp had their fall break so the school was closed. On my first visit of the month we unboxed many, many, many large cardboard shipping boxes full of novels and literature. We then had to number the inside front cover of each set of novels sequentially so that the teachers would know how many copies of each novel they had and to help teachers keep track of the specific copies students were using. It was tedious but I understand that by taking care of these menial tasks we allow the teachers more time to actually teach.

My second trip to Kipp this month came today. Not many people could make it out today so Jared and I held down the fort and tackled some very challenging tasks. We spent three hours with scissors, glue, and construction paper creating life size slices of pizza. The staff managing us were quite busy and didn't explain what these giant paper pizza slices would be used for, but we were happy to oblige. After making the pizza slices we were then tasked with cutting out thousands of paper "Kipp dollars" from printed sheets of 12. They serve as a currency for the students in the school to use for prizes and students receive the dollars for various achievements.

Aside from school and volunteering, the weather is finally beautiful. It no longer feels like we are living inside of steam room, in fact the temperature has been in 70s with a light breeze lately. Some of my classmates and I have been taking advantage of the weather to play golf and a group of us just attended our first Pelicans game (New Orlean's NBA team). Unfortunately it was a loss.

That's it for October, see you in November!


Volunteering Hours for October:
KIPP: 5 hrs

Cumulative Volunteering Hours:
23 hrs

Friday, September 30, 2016

I can’t believe another month in New Orleans has gone by. Our recent block exam was challenging and the information it covered was quite in depth. Much of the focus was on arrhythmias of the heart and other cardiovascular issues, and it was challenging but rewarding. My volunteering at Kipp Leadership Academy has continued this month, as well. My first visit was spent preparing standardized test packets for each homeroom. This involved placing pencils, test booklets, and the answer sheet for each test in a box and delivering it to each homeroom. My second visit to Kipp involved passing out the monthly classroom supplies for October for each homeroom. We pushed a cart through the hallways and distributed paper towels, Kleenexes, Lysol wipes, pencils, glue sticks, and two paper easels to each class room. My volunteering at Kipp continues to be a rewarding experience. The school is focused on the elementary level but even at such a young age the school declares the goal to be college acceptance. I think the school’s mission is very noble and it has been an honor to help the teachers out in any fashion possible.

Until next time,


Volunteering Hours for September:
KIPP: 4 hrs

Cumulative Volunteering Hours:
18 hrs

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Six weeks into living in New Orleans, and I absolutely love it. I am completely satisfied with my choice of coming to Tulane's M.S. in Pharmacology program. The class size is only 31 which is significantly smaller than some of the other similar programs I applied to and after talking to some of my peers in those programs, Tulane seems to stand out from the rest. Class is very collaborative and we have all quickly become very close with each other. Due to the small size, it's easy to focus in class and you can tell the professors and directors all genuinely want you to succeed. One of the unique parts of this program is the volunteering requirement.

All students are required to complete a set amount of volunteer hours per semester. Tulane is encouraging us to get out of the classroom and library and spend time helping others in our New Orleans community. So far, I have been volunteering at Kipp Leadership Primary, a primary charter school for exceptional young children that is provided tuition free and with an ultimate goal of college preparation. It is such a unique and altruistic concept, and the success of the mission is quite apparent. There are several Kipp academies in my hometown of Houston, Texas and at other cities in Texas, as well. I, along with some of my classmates, have been going every Friday and helping the operations staff with various tasks so that the teachers can focus more of their attention on their students.

However, I also encountered a unique volunteering experience the past weekend, August 27, in Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge was absolutely ravaged by devastating flooding several days ago and it is estimated that over 150,000 homes have been affected to some extent. A handful of classmates and I drove west to Baton Rouge and helped an elderly woman completely gut her house. We ripped up all the tile in her kitchen and pantry, demolished all the dry wall in every room of the house up to three feet off the floor, and helped her move belongings into safe locations. The damage was catastrophic and every yard of every house in the entire neighborhood had debris as well as many domestic possessions like mattresses, furniture, and TV discarded out front. It was a truly heartbreaking thing to witness but it was an honor to be able to help make this old woman's life a little bit easier during this horrible time.

That's it for August. See you next month.


P.S. I've attached a picture of the Baton Rouge neighborhood below. I didn't take one of her own home because it felt somewhat exploitative. And in each blog I'll indicate my volunteer hours per month at the bottom of the page.

Volunteering Hours for August:
KIPP: 6 hrs
Baton Rouge flood aid: 8 hrs

Cumulative Volunteering Hours:
14 hrs