I have a distinct memory from when I was in first or second grade of my mother kindly erasing my homework because my handwriting needed to be bonitinho. Even as a child, homework was unacceptable if it was messy. Growing up in Brazil, her schooling was the opposite of mine, and her expectations sometimes felt unrealistic or too harsh. Although her always correcting me helped my success in the long run, I always felt defeated when I couldn’t explain how I loved school but could never get excellent grades – something had always felt off. How could my classmates seem to get straight A’s effortlessly, and my hard work could only pull off B’s and C’s? I always thought I had a learning disability, but my mother (through no fault of her own) didn’t entertain the possibility: you just have to try harder. After years of jumping through hoops of not being able to afford the services to be tested, at age 25 I was diagnosed with adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and at 26, I was diagnosed with learning disabilities and slow processing speed.Read More »
Graduate school orientation feels like you’re a freshman (first year student) all over again. You look to both sides, gathered in an auditorium, realizing that you all are collectively about to embark on a particularly challenging journey: obtaining your Ph.D. You sign forms to receive tuition waivers and your monthly stipend, scramble to interview with faculty members and settle within a lab, and fight to reserve your spot in the most intriguing lecture courses. With fresh eyes, you view your graduate education as an opportunity to extend beyond the bounds of what’s already been published.
With a bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline I wasn’t quite fond of, and a few years of research experience on my belt, I hadn’t even considered pursuing a career in industry. Academia seemed to be the most obvious path to extend my learning capacity and switch to a new and intriguing field.Read More »