School’s OUT!

I just finished my first term, ending with a presentation in biostatistics on drug arrest rates and economic indicators and participating in a live radio session on the harmful effects of the HIV stigma that is prevalent in many Caribbean regions. It was a fast-paced term jam-packed with oodles of information along with a fair share of bumps and obstacles. Nevertheless, I’ve officially completed one-third of my degree (earning the M in MPH). Sometimes, though, I have to ask myself, would some of the stuff that goes on here fly if this school were not in Grenada, but perhaps, in the US? Probably not. However, I wouldn’t give up my experiences (both in and out of school) for anything.

Most visitors of foreign countries often eagerly anticipate seeing the sights and attractions of a new region. However, I’ve always found myself more  enthused to learning how to live like the locals, having a lust for the mundane and minutiae of everyday life, and a yearning to engross myself in the quotidian patterns of the native people. It’s one of the reasons why I’m more and more excited to be moving off campus in an area called Lance Aux Epines (recognize the French influence?). Although, the area is heavily concentrated with students and holds hostage many amenities that I’m sure are lacking in true, native residential areas, I’m happy to be far-removed from the bubble that a school campus creates. Continue reading

A 21st Century Epidemic

Megan Meier did it in 2007. Jesse Logan joined this fatal list in 2008. Now Pheobe Price and Tyler Clementi are the most recent victims in a tragedy carried out by their own doing, but their blood doesn’t lie too far from the hands of those that prompted such premature deaths. Cyber-bullying isn’t a typical disease that can be prevented by way of cautionary measures and protection. It’s an infliction that penetrates in deeper ways than any virus ever could, into the crevices of one’s mind, planting ideas—straight out of Christopher Nolan’s Inception—immersed in shades of shame and stripping a person’s sense of self-worth. What’s more, no physical contact is ever needed. Perpetrators and provokers alike are able to inflict damage with a few taps on the keyboard and a single click, far-removed from the actual victim. All the while the victim’s insecurities are set ablaze and their vulnerabilities showcased like animals in a zoo, waiting to be gawked at in a park that is ever-expanding and illimitable. Other than conjuring enough angst and hatred, the action itself is so easy to do. In fact, some of us may partake it in and never feel guilty. After all, anonymity reduces accountability. Or does it? If these types of incidents had stopped with Megan Meier, we would be recollecting the incidents of a single tragedy. With the prevalence of more and more cases, it’s becoming, in my opinion, a technologically-induced epidemic. Continue reading

Where Does Your Loyalty Lie?

My research mentor for most of my undergraduate career.

As an undergrad at UW, I was fortunate to work in James Thomson’s regenerative biology lab. Jamie (as he was fondly known) was the first cellular biologist in the world to derive the first set of human embryonic stem cell lines and in 2007, matched his previous brilliance with a new ability to program adult skin cells into becoming pluripotent stem cells. Although rather demure in nature, Jamie’s novel work catapulted him into not only the limelight of scientific endeavor but also the ire of certain conservatives as well. His breakthroughs were discussed in terms of not only medical impact and potential for progress but initiated tangents on moral and ethical guidelines. From the Bush administration to the Obama administration, regulating stem cell research is a topic still laced with obstacles and contrived of many ill-formed perspectives. The promise stem cells hold in terms of treatment towards many debilitating diseases on the face of planet today is boundless and immense—something I won’t even attempt to approach in this blog. Likewise, the amount of funding poured into such research endeavors stands to be astounding, especially if the president is allowed to lift the limit on how much funding can be provided. Continue reading