Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dinner And A Workshop

Class today was the complete opposite of class yesterday. The day before, we did a whole ton of walking around and looking around different research places; however, today we just sat and had a lecture for the whole school day. Lectures are never too bad, in fact, they are pretty interesting. I think I learned a lot about Cancer and a bunch of random facts that pretty much blew my mind.

Apparently a babies’ placenta is used in about 135 medical and scientific uses including: body lotions, “protein-rich” face creams, and shampoos. Placenta even treats gum disease, arthritis, and eye problems. Just imagine, something you use at home can have baby placenta in it. Yes, I know the stuff we use every day has even weirder stuff in it, but just finding out about specific things like this creep me out a little.
Anyway, today’s topic was mainly about one of the leading causes of death: Cancer. Cancer is caused by some malfunction in a normal cell – basically the cell’s DNA is mutated in a way that it makes the cell multiply infinitely and become harmful to the body. There are four types of cancer which include carcinoma (skin, lung, and breast), lymphoma (immune system), leukemia (bone marrow), and sarcoma (tissue, muscle). As everyone knows, cancer is extremely difficult to get rid of; however, there are some ways to fight it. The typical ways to combat cancer is through Chemotherapy, surgical removal, and bone marrow transplant.
There are many different drugs to use to against cancer. One I found that was interesting was Taxol. Taxol comes from the Pacific Yew Tree and is found to be extremely effective against ovarian cancer. It targets malignant tumors by interfering with the microtubules that are responsible for dividing chromosomes during cell division. The problem is, it takes about 20,000 pounds of bark to make only 1 kg of Taxol. As you can imagine, many trees will have to be cut down, which isn’t good for the environment. Also, it is expensive, with 1 kg of Taxol costing about 600,000 dollars. I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t have that kind of money lying around. Regardless, scientists have made a semi-synthetic material that is almost exactly like Taxol, so hopefully one day it can be used to effectively treat this cancer.
Once we finished with the lectures, Dr. Sulikowski informed us about our final projects. We will basically come up with our own research ideas and how we plan to use it and also present them in front of college grad students. Yes, college grads, and yes, I am a little nervous. Nevertheless, these challenges are what make this class unlike any high school class out there, and I really want to do my best with this and prove my abilities.
After class, we all got dressed up for the dinner with the Dean. The dinner was supposed to be outside, but due to the storms rolling in, the dinner was moved inside the Commons. The Tex-Mex food wasn’t too bad, but in all honesty, I am not a big fan of Tex-Mex.

My roomate and I :)

After dinner, we had this activity called, “You Decide: An Admissions Case Study” which involved 4 kids that we had to either accept, waitlist, or deny to this fictional university. We were all separated into groups to decide the fate of these four students. I, along with a few others, was put in a room with Ricky Thrash, who was an admissions officer at Vanderbilt. He was really relaxed and humorous, which made it really easy for everyone to express their opinions on this admissions case study.
The applicants were 4 totally different people named, Michelle (who had a recently deceased father, Christina (a girl who turned her life around), Stephen (a quirky, creative applicant), and Juan (a bright but lazy boy). After about a whole hour of discussing, weighing options, and voting, we finally came to a conclusion. We admit Stephen, waitlisted Michelle and Christina, and denied poor Juan. In the end, this case study really showed me how hard it was to be an admissions officer; I really don’t know how they do this every year – it really is painstaking work. Also, it gave me more of an in-depth view of the whole admissions process. Things like these are really helpful to anyone who wants to apply to college soon and even the curious student. It would be really beneficial if there were more workshops like these. Maybe one day they can be more widespread, and in turn everyone can benefit from it.

My proctor group!

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