Friday, August 13, 2010

Last Day Of The Last Year

It's the last day for us Project SEED kids. I can't even think about the whole thing without fluffing my feathers. I wrote what Mr.Lucas says to be an amazing paper, composed weeks of data into a giant chart, and created an information packed poster for the ACS meeting in a few weeks. This year I feel so much more accomplished. Last year I didn't know what to expect from Duquesne. A giant lab filled with machines that I didn't know how to use, and a professor talking to me about things I hardly knew? Yeah, that's what I got. But I also got so much more. I got a chance to work in a college environment many years before I would even have the chance to do that kind of research.

Last year I worked with Naudia, an undergraduate on Detecting Chromium III and VI in Dietary Supplements. I worked with her most of the time, and I have to admit. I felt like I shouldn't touch anything, or ask any questions, or even have my say in what she was doing. But after I started talking to her for a while, I learned that she was sometimes as clueless as I. When we did start talking, I think we sort of helped each other out. I asked questions, and sometimes even retrieved the answer from Dr. Rahman myself. The whole thing started to get intriguing right when it ended. Right when I was really into it. Until next year, I thought to myself.

Over the entire school year I looked at my poster in Mr. Lucas' classroom. All I could think about was getting back to SEED, and starting my research again. It was all I referred to when I was writing mediocre lab reports in science class, when everyone else was freaking out. Soon enough it was prom, and graduation, and soon enough it was back to Duquesne!

It was like I never left. I knew everyone, and where everything was at. The veterans helped the new kids out, and I have to say, it felt good to be familiar with the place. The new kids came and I have to admit, I thought they were all going to be a little strange. Although I knew the kids from my high school, Ian and Mary seemed to be unfriendly. Before you knew it we were all laughing and joking around like we had been friends for years.

When I did get back to my lab, I found that I had a new project to learn about. Oh boy, I thought. Another bundle of new, confusing information. It turns out, it was practically the same as my research from the year before. Instead of working to detect only Chromium, I was working to detect all dangerous elements in supplements. It was about three weeks in and I hadn't done much in the lab beside clean microwave vessels.

Boy was I in for a surprise, I worked my tail off for 2 weeks straight, and it was the most rewarding thing ever. I felt so accomplished. I was doing real, college research in my lab. After everything, SEED was completely and totally worth giving up my summers. I gained so much knowledge, acquaintances, opportunities, and friends. My work will be in a publication, and I will have a letter of recommendation from a college professor as a high school student. Take that, college applications!

It's been a great two summers and I'm so thankful for Dr. Aitken, Dr. Kingston, Dr. Rahman, Mr. Lucas, Naudia, and Greg and everything they've done for me.

I have to say, I'm going to miss Starbucks, the Batcave, the computer lab, the fun Macs, group meetings, Tristan's awful grammar, the football field, frisbee, the "boys" on the football team, the teal lunch tickets, the friends I made, the crazy tactics of the other kids, the drafts I kept revising, the early mornings, the late evenings, "da" buses, the table by Aitken's office, and most of all, the great people at Duquesne. It was a great experience.

-Amanda Anderson :)

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