Man’s Greatest Treasure

I started reading the Harry Potter books when I was eleven years old, and I spent the rest of my adolescence waiting for new books to come out so I could basically devour them whole. My dad likes to tell the story of how he bought me the Goblet of Fire; he bought it the day it came out and I disappeared for 24 hours the moment he handed it to me. When I emerged, he was surprised to hear that I had finished it already (I was twelve at the time). He quizzed me on it by flipping to random pages and asking me what came next: I could almost quote exactly from the page he was on.

At the time, I sorted myself into the house of my heroes: Gryffindor. Having adventures like Harry and Ron and being brave and bold certainly seemed like the ideal life. But, as I grew and more books came out and I learned more about myself, it became clear that Ravenclaw would have been a better fit. I treasured wit and learning and experimentation. I wanted more than anything to learn everything. I could never understand how Harry and Ron whined and moaned about doing their homework; I would have been more like Hermione, holed up in the library trying to learn everything I could about the new world I was in.

“What would Hermione do?” has become my mantra. The answer always seems pretty clear. She would collect knowledge like other people collect stamps or enamelware teapots. She would study late into the night and then wake up early for a good breakfast, and do her homework completely and thoroughly when it was assigned. Hermione would prepare well in advance for any challenges she might face, and stand up for and protect the rights of lower class citizens. She would be brave and strong and compassionate.

I’ve been asking myself that a lot recently. When I transferred back home to the University of West Florida; the move felt a lot like a last chance, so I poured all of my effort into being the best student, employee, and mother that I could possibly. Now I’m coming up on finals for my last semester of undergraduate work at the UWF, waiting to hear back from several really exciting prospective Research Assistant jobs at other institutions, and looking at putting my applications in at graduate schools. Obviously I’m procrastinating a bit right now (old habits die hard), but as a whole, I think it’s a good thing to ask myself in times of trouble. What would Hermione do?

Attending the Symposium

It’s been a few years since I participated in the middle school science fair, but today was quite the flashback to my volcano-building days.


For the last several months, I have been reviewing the literature on language brokering, acculturation, and depression and anxiety. At the behest of my mentor, Dr. Rainey, I submitted my abstract to the UWF Student Scholars Symposium. Today was the big day!


My board was a very simple black and white trifold. It was a stark contrast to the boards around me that popped with color and pictures and logos. I paced a lot- the pedometer on my watch informed me at 10:30 that I had already met my daily goal of 5000 steps! In the midst of my pacing, I practiced my five minute spiel on several of the passers-by and got quite adept at explaining my research. I believe that I did a good job of representing myself and my passion for the subject to the judges.

I’m really glad I participated in this Symposium. It was really interesting and exciting to see all of the research from across all of the university’s departments. The posters from the psychology department were by far the best though. We rock.


Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.

Marie Curie

Asking for Letters

Asking for strong letters of recommendation is really nerve-wracking! It feels like a lot to ask of someone to tell a university that you’re a good candidate for their program. I’ve been asking my professors for letters this week after I saw a Research Assistant opening at the University of Texas Austin… It’s my #1 choice school and a great lab, so it all feels very high-stakes. I’ve been getting some excellent advice from the professors that I’m asking for letters, so I thought I would pass it along.

  • As long as you’re doing well in their class and proving yourself capable of the work, it’s not an issue or a bother for a professor to write a letter- they do it all the time.
  • One professor told me today that it’s not a bother to rewrite letters for different programs or schools either, since the bulk of the letter does not change, just the names.
  • Make sure you specify that you would like them to write a “strong” letter of recommendation. This gives them an out so they don’t feel obligated to write you one if they know that they aren’t the best person to represent you.