Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Minority STEM

     I'm not sure how much I have talked about this yet, but certainly not in depth. Jan, one of my transcriptionists, got a call a few weeks ago from the MSTEM coordinator Quinshell from UALR - she was looking for someone to mentor her UALR students and show them my world. I jumped at the chance. I love to do that, and I don't get enough takers. Bring it on.

    She originally said she had only one or two but quickly scheduled five into my parameters. She was very respectful - she rescheduled some when I told her one a week was enough. I had my first shadow a couple of weeks ago - Khariana - and she blew me away. She had a frustrating start at college - went to Fville and was gaslighted. Her story, not mine to tell, but it really reinforced my belief in patriarchal institutions. Her Dad smartly was angered and relented to give them any more money so she ended up at UALR.

    A formidable institution. They trained me in medicine after I changed career course and they trained my partner Melody and her sister Rhonda. Khariana was like a spitfire - she soaked up everything I showed her and had smart questions I could never fathom. She found a mentor at UALR and wants to be an epidemiologist. Way above an MD intelligence grade. I tailored my tour to emphasize cancer genetics and Covid based on her interests and after lunch I had Pat, an MT, tour her around the Covid room. The parallels she was drawing from the conversation made my head spin. 

    Today I had my second shadow Mikaya. I'm a tall girl, but this oldest sibling of four dwarfed me. We high fived at Boulevard waiting for her sandwich when we realized we were both oldest siblings of four. She's from Marion, and her parents are both factory managers, so I said you are a trailblazer then. Told her about my partner Michelle. Mikaya wants to be a forensic pathologist, so I crafted a different tour. Spent a lot of time telling her about my rotation in residency and how things have changed. Offered her a window, or a passage if necessary, to further her education with my contacts.

    She wanted to be a veterinarian until she watched a Netflix show about autopsy findings in obese patients. It drew her. I told her I always liked forensics, but my rotation had so many kid deaths I feared I couldn't draw boundaries. And government work is hard, and not rewarded. But I told her about Judy Melenik (God I have to write that article someday) and how she felt so unprotected at her California hub at the beginning of Covid (the guards who brought the bodies were no maskers). When her partner contracted Covid and didn't make it it was the final straw.

    She moved to New Zealand, and is very happy. They are super protective of VISAs to their country - my architect husband tried unsuccessfully to do an internship there. But they will let doctors in. Judy is now doing less than half the work for equal pay and is collaborating with her husband writing forensic novels. And New Zealand countryside - how can you beat that. I haven't read her new stuff, but I'd like to. I'll read her, Mikaya said, as she meticulously took notes. She is on a premed route at UALR about to finish her junior year. Stellar GPA. She aspires to leave the country. Who wouldn't in this crazy climate.

    Mikaya was so warm and funny and asked lots of questions. When I let her touch a human brain in the gross room I thought she might faint she was so excited. After she left, Tina said I heard you talking after you got her lunch. My favorite Boulevard sandwich - smoked turkey not on baguette (way too messy) but toasted on multigrain. I'm still stuck on fruit and peanut butter but she said it was one of the best sandwiches she ever had. She was so excited, Tina said. That's why I do this. Their excitement fuels me. I do it a little selfishly. When she sat in my office she looked around and sighed. I can't wait to get here. This is what I've dreamed of all my life.

    She managed to get a contact through emails last summer at the Crime Lab but circumstances prevented her from seeing an autopsy. I told her to try again and if she hit a dead end I would be happy to help with my contacts. Can't wait to meet the next girl. In the meantime, Cecelia is coming home tomorrow to have dinner with me before we leave for Sedona on Saturday and she leaves for Spain the following week. 

    I'm so excited about Sedona. Through the concierge at Amara I booked last week a Grand Canyon tour and a stargazing tour and a Jeep tour and a vortex tour - I am super excited to learn about the latter Lisa's stepmom wrote a book about the vortexes in the 60's if I remember correctly. Lots of good dinners too. Makes the backbreaking pace at work lately more doable to have something to look forward to. Happy almost Thursday, much love, Elizabeth

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