Saturday, July 30, 2016

Dr. Cortez is Temporarily off Duty...

I woke up to an empty room. Wonderful way to wake up.... HAHA.. Especially on the last day of the program...... If you didn't know, I was being sarcastic. 

I slowly forced myself out of bed and finished last minute packing before cleaning my room and heading off to breakfast. I sat with my usual group.. Jahnvi, Jae-An, Taylor, and Nahkul. We shared the table and laughed until we felt the six-packs coming. It all felt a bit too odd. It didn't feel like we were hours away from going our separate ways. Breakfast went by really fast and we were soon ushered off onto the patio.  We were given five minutes to say our heartfelt goodbyes and leave VSA for good. I couldn't help but feel saddened at the fact that I was going to leave one of my newest and now closest friends, Nahkul. I gave him the biggest hug anybody could imagine and told each other that we would see each other very soon. 

I went back to my room and looked at it once more before taking my stuff out and finally heading down to sign out of Hank Ingram. It still didn't feel like I was leaving... I left Hank Ingram feeling numb. I really didn't want to leave. The time came and Mom arrived to pick us up. We went to Nashville Airport and headed off to Atlanta. I slept the whole time because I didn't want to lose myself in my own thoughts. I was still sad. We got to Atlanta and were now headed off to San Francisco. This airplane trip was really fun. I got to sit with Jahnvi and Jae-An. We laughed and spoke of our experience at VSA until we landed five hours later at the SFO Airport. 

Landing in San Francisco was a bit strange. I felt like a foreigner. I felt out of place. I really wanted to go back to Nashville. We grabbed our luggage and made our way back to El Cerrito High School where Don was waiting for us. We said our goodbyes and eventually had to leave...


Wake up. Shower. Brush. Change. Go down to breakfast.

Our last day began just as any other day would, only infused with an underlying sense of angst and sadness, to put it melodramatically.

Saying our final parting wishes
Breakfast was cut down to less than a half hour, so as to provide five minutes of time on the commons patio for us to say our goodbyes to friends. Strange, how that was arranged. Anyhow, from there on was just a nonstop feels train. People were hugging, laughing over memories of these past three weeks, signing each other's term was like an exaggerated version of the last day of school.

After saying our tearful goodbyes, we were sent to wait on our floors. I still had to finish packing, so I kind of just haphazardly tossed what was left in random suitcases while intermittently going to our floor's common area to see who was leaving. One by one, the proctor group fellas were checked out, and eventually Mom came to pick us up. #chillinwiththefellas#thefellashipwillneverdie

The time spent in the airport/airplane/shuttle seemed to zoom by. I saw roommate Jiayu at the airport one last time, which was extremely odd, as if an actor had taken the wrong cue and showed up in the wrong scene. The plane rides (from Nashville to Atlanta and from Atlanta to SFO) were mostly spent sleeping, with sporadic conversations when we were all awake.

Getting off the plane was, well, weird. The air of SF was colder than the air-conditioned classrooms at Vandy. The clouds were all wrong. I was starving from barely having eaten anything. All in all, it was more like I was visiting another place rather than returning home, strangely enough. We found our luggage and headed back to El Cerrito High School, said our goodbyes, and parted ways.

To be continued

Tears and Goodbyes

I'm leaving. It had just struck me. I got up from my bed and sat up and just thought. I thought of all
Our last breakfast :'(
the people I might not ever see again but had so many memories with. But then I fixed myself and optimistically thought about the few more hours we still had together. I finished packing, and went out for the last breakfast. I brought my termbook with me, and asked anyone left to sign it. After that, we had a few minutes outside the Commons to give everyone hugs for the last time and sign more termbooks. With the few minutes left, it got very stressful and sad.

We all climbed up to our rooms and were forced to stay on our floors. We spent a few more hours together and then one by one we all began to leave. There were many tears and hugs. Suddenly, Caroline, our RA said that Mom was downstairs and I had to leave. I gave hugs to everyone, and was about to cry. I collected myself and carried all my bags to the elevator. Downstairs, I met with the rest of my cohort and a few more of my friends, to who I gave more hugs. 

We rushed to the airport and ate a Starbucks sandwich there. Soon, it was time to get on the one hour flight to Atlanta. I was between Edward and Mom, so I couldn't find any strangers to talk to.

Group hug full of love
Our flight had been greatly delayed so we had to run to the next flight so that we weren't late. There, Jackie, Jae-An, and I sat in one row. Since it was the last few hours, we decided to not fall asleep and talk the entire time. And that's exactly why we didn't start any of our work on the plane. 

After we landed, there was some confusion on baggage claims. In this confusion, we met an elderly couple, and the husband was actually a Vanderbilt alumni! Sadly, I couldn't take a picture with him because of the rush, but it was really cool meeting him. 

After reaching ECHS, the four of us tried to make a plan to go to the movies together, but it was unsuccessful. After giving emotional goodbye hugs, we left to go home. Everything felt so different, and I can't explain why. All I know is that it is a good different. 

Coming to an End

We had a wonderful time at VSA. The final ceremony right before the dance hit a lot of us right in the heart. With the 3 main representatives speeches came crashing a waterfall of tears from all the students. We watched a small video, a compilation of photos at VSA. Everyone had forced laughter, with something in their throats, trying not to show the pain they felt. I wonder if I’m the only one who noticed. As we were dismissed, some laughing and some crying, everything felt flat. There was a halt in the emotions that usually surrounded everyone's face because we knew it was our last day we would each least for a while.

We all went to the dance, and some people showed off moves they never knew they had (me). Party Rock got the dance started and virtually everyone danced their feet away. I know I did.

After the dance we went to our dorms for our final rest before leaving home.

The morning came and I woke up early to send people off that had an early flight. After that, those who stayed went to eat breakfast and then went to pack. Before I noticed, it was time to go. I said my goodbyes and left.......with valuable memories.

We went to the airport and ended up at our gate about an hour before boarding, so we walked around a bit. When we got back to our gate, I talked with a wonderful woman named Daisy from Puerto Rico. She and her husband, a veteran, were going back home to Atlanta after her nephew's wedding. After people started boarding it turns out that our luggage had to be checked to our destination because they ran out of overhead compartment space. After we landed we made our connecting flight to San Francisco, we couldn't find our luggage. As luck has it, we were in the wrong building. We found our way to our luggage and to the shuttle. The trip from the airport to school was fun, we were able to express ourselves to each other in both good and bad ways. We finally arrived at El Cerrito High school and we met our parents and Don. We wanted to go to the movies but couldn't and then we all went home.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Final Page?

Our team, the car, and Will
I don't know where to start. There was so much going on today since it was the last day. Now, I'm really bad at expressing emotions through words, and today has just been a rollercoaster of emotions. So, bear with me as I try to explain my day. 

First wave of emotions: We gave our car to Will! There was a lot to take in for the poor child as soon as he sat into the car and moved. He started crying at first while, and calmed down as soon as he got into the car. We had to add a seat belt made of Velcro so that he doesn't slip out of his seat. However, the minute Will learned to push the handle bar and get the car moving on his own, was the most wonderful feeling. It made my heart feel so warm.

After this was closing ceremony where they played a slideshow of pictures from the past weeks, and it brought back so many memories. Also, V-House won the House Cup!! (I'm in V-House in case you didn't remember). We won!! 

We got time to hang out together, pack, and write letter to each other and sign each other's termbooks after. (Termbooks are small VSA yearbooks.) We got more free time between dinner and the dance. At the dance, we all took so many pictures. And the last song they played was "See you Again." It was very emotional. We stayed up until one talking, hugging, and saying good-byes. 

Since it's easier to show in pictures, here are a few of the pictures that I have taken today. 

Jackie, me, and Taylor
Me and Greg

Our gorgeous proctor group

Thursday, July 28, 2016

In the End...

Elijah and Dad.
Sadly enough, today was the last full day of VSA. It definitely felt like a last day - people were hugging each other everywhere, signing each other's books...there was just a sense of finality to the day. Being the last day of class, we had to present our modified cars to our assigned children today, over at Belmont University. Our group was fairly certain we had fixed most of the problems that had come up. Boy, were we wrong.

For some reason, things that were fine when we tested them in the morning started going wrong. The battery suddenly became too week, the back support had to be readjusted, the steering wheel was too loose...the list goes on and on. We did all we could, but ended up having to postpone the car delivery date to Elijah's family; Amanda announced that she would work out the kinks in the car and deliver it personally. 

It was incredibly disappointing not being able to directly see the results of our efforts, but I'm able to accept this failure. Our team put in as much effort as we could have, and I learned so much over the course of just a few weeks. If only we had a little more time, we could have successfully completed our task. But hey, in real life you don't always get the things you need.

All the VSA students gathered here today...
Immediately after class we were whisked to the closing ceremony. To me, it felt like the VSA leaders tried really hard to hit us right in the feels, and it kind of worked. If anything, the ceremony was more like a joyful event rather than a tearful one, even if there were sentimental moments. They showed a slide shows of assorted pictures from our time here, brought up memories of proctor one point someone quoted Perks of Being a Wallflower (one of my favorite books ever) in a speech. The ceremony was kind of like a shock to me, like "Oh my god. This is actually happening, we're leaving tomorrow." I know it'll be more painful tomorrow morning.

Following some free time, which I used to pack and clean the room (which was actually pretty difficult, by the way. Stuff migrates across a room in a couple of weeks.), we had our last dance! I was in a good mood, but just didn't feel like dancing, so I found a quiet room and chatted with some people. I met Katrina, from Vancouver, Washington, who did a tarot card reading for me, interestingly enough. I'll spare the boring details about my romantic future, shall I? Anyhow, Jackie, Katrina, and I had a very deep conversation about a jumble of topics: the universe, autism, birth was quite enjoyable, and a welcome alternative to whipping ten thousand times for lack of a better dance move.

To conclude the day, we had our final proctor group meeting, and had a hilarious time playing "Hot Seat." I could probably live with the boys for another ten years without getting tired of them, because they are funny. Oh, and I was also noted for being the student with the "most improved sleep schedule." I will neither confirm whether deny the truthfulness of this statement. :P

Last time seeing this gorgeous view...#7thfloor#realgood

It'll be time for departure soon. See you in a little bit.

Last Day

Today was the last full day of VSA. The first thing we did was to go the new problems in law class and we were their guinea pigs to test how memorization is affected with regular actions of everyday. After that we went to the Toy Lab to give out teacher, TA, and people who helped out with our class.

We finished up the car and then we all sent it to Belmont where the kids were going to be. We left for lunch and some people started crying because they realized it was the last day to see each other.

After lunch we went to Belmont to get the final touches on the car fixed, for example, the seat angle was wrong and there thongs of the sort. It was all things that could not be done right without the child there. The most terrible thing happened, our car failed. Out of nowhere the battery wasn't charging, the button was causing a short-circuit, and there was no way to open the back of the vibrator to change batteries. Our team was devastated. We couldn’t get the car to work right. Apparently there was some problem with the battery that we didn’t know about.

After dinner everyone freshened up to go to the dance. At the end, for the last song, some people started crying.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Doctor is In...

Today was quite average. Well, atleast for the most part..

In MED101 we had to show off our amazing physician skills. My class went to CELA, the section of Vanderbilt University that is used by medical students to practice any form of physical exams that may be performed during checkups. We were assigned partners and we're expected to go into the mock clinic room to interview a fake patient to understand how they are feeling and to look for potential reasons why they may feel abnormal. We were also required to perform cardiac and physical exams. My partner, Sophia, and I went into the mock room nervously and did all we were instructed to do. We "foamed in", knocked on the door, introduced ourselves, made ourselves comfortable(although not too comfortable), and asked the patient why they had shown up. After a series of questions to better understand the concerns of our patient and medical history, we began our physical exams. We listened to our patients heart(in search for systolic and diastolic contractions) and felt for the patients carotid pulse. We then transitioned to the last portion of the physical exam which concerned the individuals state of neurology. We made sure that all of the cranial nerves were in correct function and checked for our patients reflexes.

This mock examination of a fake patient was wonderful. It made me happy to be able to interact with a patient even if they were acting the whole time. I just felt exited to be able to directly see a patient and help diagnose and treat the patient. Seems like a great job.. Perhaps I have something else to consider?

Wear Your Lanyards, Kids

Judgement day. Crunch time. The decisive day. Whatever you want to call it, today was the last day to work on our project cars, which we will be presenting to our selected families tomorrow. Augh. Presenting. That word always makes me cringe internally, both from embarrassment and nervousness.

Edward is so done with life.
Oh, and that's our car.
Anyhow, my group was only one of two groups out of five that had not finished their projects yet, so while the others did a lab involving chicken bones on stress and strain, we were busily finishing what we could. Several problems came up just today: there wasn't enough seat space for him, the booster seat wasn't secure and came apart, we didn't have enough supplies, we had to wire in a new component in the electrical circuit...the list of issues went on. Somehow, by some miracle, we were able to work through nearly all of the issues - but it wasn't easy. I must have lost another decade or so while stressing over how to solve all the design problems. Hmm...I already have white hairs... ;_;

Eating ice cream on a hot day really is nice.
Afterwards, Amanda took us all outside to celebrate the completion of our cars through ice cream! She bought quite a few ice cream bars and popsicles, so we each got three. Highlight of my day, right there. By the way, I accidentally ate a bite of Jahnvi's ice cream...I was trying to get her attention, and she pointed her popsicle right at me, which I assumed was a signal of offering. Of course, it was not. Lel.

Unfortunately, tonight's soft night was cut short by an unfortunate incident. Basically, I was caught not wearing my lanyard, which we are supposed to have on at all times. But let me back up. 

At least I saw this cute bunny on the way back...
Jackie, Jahnvi, Nakhul, and I were all planning to go look for super cheap clothes and coffee, and end up strolling in a clothing store. All the clothes are ridiculously overpriced (a pair of shorts for several hundred dollars?! Now, this was before their "markdowns."), so we start to leave. However, Nakhul has to buy a belt, so the other two and I wait outside. I start fiddling with my lanyard, since I hate wearing things on my neck, and a proctor comes by. After ordering us to go in and accompany Nakhul in the store, she sees I'm not wearing my lanyard and says I must go back to the dorms for the night. 

I literally stared at her for a good twenty seconds before realizing that she wasn't joking.

Although my friends ended up coming back with me, this was probably the "down" of my day. Rules are rules, sure, but my lanyard was only around two to three feet away from me...I wasn't mad or anything, just a mix of understanding and for lack of a better term, self-pity. 

The incident aside, I rather enjoyed myself today. I finally learned (courtesy of Edward) that the microwaves in the dining commons can melt cheese on your hamburger and fries, which makes such a huge difference in taste, surprisingly.

I'm hungry now...

Waterfall.....of Blood

Today there was another lab in class about compression and extension on bones. I didn't get to participate because I was finishing up the car for our group. I finished without disruption and the car turned out very well. Ours is the only one with manual parental control (it can be controlled wirelessly).  After lunch we had ice cream together.

I was able to play ping-pong against myself. Now it's not because no one plays with me, it's because there are 2 Edwards here at VSA so we have a joke of being on separate teams so I (technically) always win. YAY!!!   ......there are also 3 Mohammed’s but they kind of don’t like each other.

I headed out with Sam and Mohammed to Pangaea because I wanted to get a little something for someone back home. Unfortunately, it was closed so we went around looking for small gifts around the campus. While we were looking around, we stopped by a Pokémon Gym and I was able to buff up the gym and add another Pokémon so it would be harder for the other 2 teams, Instinct (Yellow) and Valor (Red) to take over my gym. I am of course on team Mystic (Blue), the best team. After that, we went over to the "beach" party where we threw water balloons at each other and played volleyball. I ended today with my nose bleeding while blogging as I type this…….send help…….please………..*dies with blood gushing out of nostrils* ;)

Bones and Jello

Today wasn't very eventful for some odd reason. In class, we continued the Jello experiment, and
Jello tester
our Jello was very weak. It got squished the minute we clamped it to test the tensile strength, or basically how much it can be pulled before breaking. Then, we tested the strength of chicken bones. I felt so bad for the chicken as my group member pulled the muscles off the bone. 

After class, we had free time, and I hung out with friends. Then we had our usual schedule of dinner and soft night. Today, I went out to a clothing store,  that was supposed to be cheap, with friends. That didn't work out as expected and so we returned back to our dorms. 

Tomorrow, however, I know will be a very eventful day. It just has to be.

Compression machine testing chicken bone

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Everything is Intertwined...

In yesterday's blog I mentioned that today I was going to be able to see my favorite structure of the brain. Can you guess what structure that was??... Yes, you guessed right.. it was the Amygdala. I went to MED101 really exited about getting to see a structure that is only 1.24 cm in length.

We walked up three flights of stairs to get to our class and sat waiting for our instructors to begin our daily lesson. Before getting on to actually look at brains, one of our instructors, Alex, gave a lecture on the pathology of the brain and what could go wrong within the brain. 

Today's lecture was particularly interesting in comparison to all the other pathology presentations given on the past two weeks. This presentation was very brief yet was still very interesting.  Since we already knew about the anatomy and physiology of the brain, thanks to Roger, Alex went on to list many of the most common problems that could occur within the brain. Out of sole memory, I recall Alex talking about the two types of headaches. Alex talked about primary and secondary headaches. Primary because these certain headaches do not occur because of another issue in the brain, and secondary because something else is causing the headache. Primary headaches consist of Migraines, Tension headaches, and Cluster headaches. Whereas secondary headaches are usually caused by nasty diseases like Meningitis or by something as minuscule as a sinus infection. 

After this, Alex went on to talk about other terrible things that may occur in the brain as a result of complications that may occur outside of the nervous system. Last week was focused on the heart and complications of the heart. It is very possible for complications in the circulatory system to affect other parts of the body, which in this case is the nervous system. To make better sense of this phenomena, a made-up scenario was presented.

"M is a 52 year old male who has come in to see his primary care physician because he is has lost sensation on the right side of his face and the left side of his upper and lower extremities. M has slurred speech and is feeling lightheaded and complains of a headache that is specific to the upper right portion of his head. All of M's vital signs are normal, minus his blood pressure which is at 200/70. M mentions that he has problems with regurgitation of the mitral valve and also has been hospitalized for a series of strokes." Most of these are all circulatory problems. How are problems within the circulatory system able to affect the nervous system?

This question was the main topic for the majority of our class time. We brainstormed reasons as to why the brain was being affected as a result of something that may have originated in the heart. We paid very close attention to the patient's symptoms and all came to the agreement that these were all symptoms of a stroke. The only question left unanswered was how the heart and brain were connected in this context and the type of stroke that was taking place.

During the unit on the circulatory system, it was presented that things like mitral regurgitation may lead to blood clots, which may travel freely throughout the body, perhaps vessels in the brain. Based on M's medical history, this was the underlying problem. M has released a blot clot that has made its way up to a vessel in the sensory strip of the brain, which explains why he has lost sensation on most of his extremities. The only question left is whether this stroke is ischemic or hemorrhagic. In order to determine whether M has an ischemic or hemorrhagic stoke we would have to use a CT scan. After further inspection, it turns out that a blood vessel has blocked the blood's pathway to the remaining portion of the brain. This is an ischemic stroke. In order to treat this type of stoke, the patient must consume blood thinners to allow for blood to flow to the remaining parts of the brain. After this procedure, the patient is then able to partake in regular daily activities, well after his blood pressure is lowered. His blood pressure is pretty high. In order for his brain to receive as much as oxygenated-blood as possible, the blood pressure must be lowered to promote healthy and stable blood flow.

After this case, the group was left with the knowledge that all systems of the body are intertwined. If something goes wrong in one part of the body, it affects the rest of the body.

Although I took a lot of this blog to explain how systems of the body are connected, the Amygdala, with the company of slices of brain tissue, was the sole purpose of this blog. In one short paragraph, I will say that the "Almond" is much better in person and that a neuron, as insignificant as it may seem, is now the reason why I love the brain even more. I looked at the brain tissue through a  microscope, and saw nearly a dozen of neuron cell bodies... It brought tears to my eyes, and for a reason I did not know. I just got very emotional to the sight of a brain cell. Perhaps this is a revelation that neuroscience is the field for me?? Who knows... I still have many other careers to choose from.

Proctor Group Night

So today in class, we were split in half, those that have finished their car, and those who are close to finishing it. Those that haven't finished were working on the car, while those who have, got to go do a gelatin lab testing for stress and strain. I got time to work on the car, but because we have the most difficult one, we only barely started working on structural support, but we got a lot done today. We have almost all the PVC piping cut to length and we will stick it together when we go to Belmont on Thursday.

We went to go to Nissan after lunch and we got to see how they crank a car out every 27 seconds. We compared that to that 10 prosthesis that get made a day for people with physical disabilities. Obviously it's the amount of customization that goes into prosthesis is way more compared to vehicles because they are one size, and one style. Prosthesis all have to be as unique as there are humans.

Tonight was proctor group night so we decided to go to Centennial Park because of one main thing.....Pokémon. The amount of diversity of Pokémon there is enormous compared to anywhere else around here. We all freaked out when we found a Scyther. Most of us caught it, but some of them didn’t. Luckily, I did. After we saw a big lightning bolt and heard thunder rolling in, we scrambled to get back to the dorms. We went to our floor and saw the fundamentals of caring.

The (Nissan) ULTIMAte Day

Well, today's class was pretty unique. We tested out the strength of Jello as more gelatin was added
The magical pipette
into it. Or, well, we tried to. Waiting for the Jello to dry after heating and stirring it was too time consuming, and we all messed up and pulled out the wet Jello too quickly at least once. Amanda said we will continue our experiment tomorrow, which I am looking very forward to. However, there was something important I learned about during this experiment: a precise, easy-to-use pipette. In this pipette, you could choose how many micro-milliliters you want your drop to be. The problem of liquid getting stuck easily inside your bulb was gone in the pipette. It was magical!

Greg stirring Jello and gelatin
After the experiment, we went to tour Nissan. There was a huge train in which we all sat, and the tour guide spoke into headphones that each of us had to wear. There were huge intricate robots everywhere that did more than 95% of the work. Then there were tracks overhead that carried parts to different stations in the factory. It was all VERY hectic and everything was all over the place. Although I did find it amazing, the huge robots and the large number of them seemed a little intimidating. I think so because there was just so much going on each second that it was too crazy. 

When we came back, Amanda had us pair off to think of a way to modify any toy for children less than 2 years old who couldn't move their legs. We decided to modify the scooters we use in PE class that have four wheels and a flat surface. A baby could lie on it and push a button, that would be connected to a stick. This stick would push spokes on a wheel, and that would cause the scooter to move. So the faster the button is pushed, the quicker the scooter moves. I had a lot of fun in these 20 minutes because I love having to come up with spontaneous, creative ideas.

After class was just free time where I hung out with friends. Then, there was proctor group time after dinner. My group decided to make crafts, and we all had a very fun time. Now, as I am typing this blog, the drowsiness from all that fun is getting to me, and I will quickly go to sleep.  
Proctor group night

Monday, July 25, 2016

Almonds are my Favorite!

MED101 was awesome today. All other days have been great too, but I feel like this day was the day I "geeked" out the most during class. We were introduced to the nervous system!! In one of my most recent blogs, I expressed my love for the brain and how fascinating it is how the structure of the brain has a huge correlation with the possibility of developing a mental illness. Although we didn't get too far into how the two topics are correlated, I did leave class exited about the one organ that named itself... The Brain. 

Image result for brain lobes
Behold... The Brain
One of my class instructors, Roger, gave a lengthy introduction to the nervous system. He gave a detailed lecture on all of the different portions of the brain and what they are responsible for. Roger talked about the frontal cortex, the occipital lobe, the temporal lobe, the parietal lobe, the motor strip, the sensory strip, and last but not least, the cerebellum. As Roger went further into the nooks an crannies of the brain, all I did was hope that he explained my favorite structure... The Amygdala. I will now go on to explain why I love the Amygdala so much and how significant it is to our daily functions. 

My favorite structure in the Brain.
The Amygdala is located in the Limbic System. The Amygdala, thought to look like an almond, is responsible for processing emotion, an individuals "fight or flight response", and is responsible for determining the types of memories that are stored in certain parts of the brain. This is where all of my excitement comes in. When the Amygdala is stimulated, perhaps after seeing a dark shadow near ones closet, it begins to release hormones which promote fear throughout the body. Considering how the Amygdala is closely tied to fear and anxiety, you can infer that an abnormality in the structure of the Amygdala would alter its function, possibly leading to phobia and trauma. This would drastically affect the way a person lives. They may live their entire lives fearing one thing, either because of an early traumatic event or simply for no other identifiable reason. Another eerie connection that the structure of the Amygdala has with mental illness, is that if an individual has a smaller Amygdala compared to the average size(1.24 cm), an individual is most likely to be a psychopath and participate in criminal activity. 

This is connected to the rotation I had on Friday. The psychiatrist told me and my peers that the an abnormality within the psychology of the brain has a lot to do with the increased likelihood of a person partaking in extreme activities that may get them injured or incarcerated. 

It is completely fascinating to me how the poor development of certain parts of the brain can affect the way a person lives. I can go for hours and hours talking about the other connections the brain has to other forms of mental illnesses, but this would no longer be considered a blog, it would end up being a scientific paper. .. I'd prefer to leave that for when school starts.

Class today was beyond amazing and I am looking forward for tomorrow because we will have the chance to look at real brains. Let's hope I get to look at the Amygdala!

Swiper, No Swiping

Today was pretty trash. The best thing that happened was that it started absolutely pouring when we were walking back from class. That was pretty cool, I suppose.

Nothing much happened at all in class; I learned to use a power drill and continued working on our car. We're still far behind everyone else, although we have finished all the wiring. I've come to enjoy working on the project; it gives me a sort of sense of satisfaction from actually having accomplished something with my own hands.

Right before lunch, I happened to notice that my lanyard was missing; we need our lanyards to buy lunch, and I was quite starving at the time. After searching for it in the classroom for around fifteen minutes, I finally gave up and went to the cafeteria. It turns out that one of my classmates, the same annoying one from before, had taken my lanyard as a prank. Needless to say, I was not happy, to say the least. 

The rest of the day went by uneventfully. I stayed in for soft night, practicing piano and just relaxing.

Hopefully tomorrow is more active.

A Vrooming Finish

We finished our car today!! I was so happy and proud that we had finished our car. The only thing
Our finished car's side view!
we need to do now is make a more exact support system for Will when he sits in the car. It's important that he sits upright and keeps his head up so that he can build more muscles and continue sitting up straight in the future. We will do this on Thursday with the help of professional occupational therapists so that nothing can go wrong. 

We then wrote a small instruction manual on how we modified our car, and what changes the parent can possibly make in the future. Now that my team and I had free time, we started modifying other toys. I decided to change a toy teapot, and move the small button to a big red one on the outside. It turned out a bit harder than I thought, especially with the many parts in the
This is halfway of how much we had to take apart
teapot, and the tiny wiring inside it. I finally found the button, and then Laura joined me to help with the toy. We had to cut these tiny wires from the button, and connect them to longer strips of wires, and then connect that to the huge button. It was pretty stressful, since the wire was so tiny and we didn't want to cut the whole wire instead of only taking the plastic coating off. 

Afterwards, we had a small experiment where we measured the length of how much a rubber band stretches as weights are added onto it. We learned about stress and strain, found the values of each instance when weights were hung onto the rubber band, and graphed stress vs. strain graphs. We learned more infromation about them, and also that this is the basic in mechanical engineering. It helped me confirm my plan of not
So you could see how small the wires were
pursuing mechanical engineering in the future, actually. It just didn't seem to be as interesting to me, and I found the lecture on circuits better than this. 

After class, we had free time. During this, there were panels where you could ask VSA staff about their academics and extracurriculars in college. It was fun talking to them, and I ended up staying there for the 2 hours. After dinner, we had soft time, and I went with a group of friends to Mellow Mushrooms to eat some pizza. We had a lot of fun and came back to attend the daily proctor group meetings. We had a little more of free time after that where I hung out with friends more, and then went to bed. 
About half of the group at Mellow Mushrooms

STRESSing Out With Cars

Today I headed out to breakfast and had some eggs, bacon and hash browns. I picked up some fruit to get some nutrition. Today we had to sit with our class instead of with anyone we wanted. Armin, the class TA, had us do an activity called Rose-Bud-Thorn. The Rose represents what you really liked or enjoyed while in class, the Bud represents what you are looking forward to happening later on in class, and the Thorn represents something you didn't like or enjoy while in/during class. Mine were:
Rose: Watching The Princess Bride with everyone
Bud: Going to deliver the toys to the children at Belmont later this week
Thorn: The long, hot walks to and from class since our class is the furthest away

Wiring finished
We came to class through a long walk and I was sweating like usual. As soon as I walked inside the refreshing air hit me like water to someone out in the desert for a week. I cooled down as we walked to our Toy Lab (The name we decided to place on ourselves). Amanda came in and we talked about how our week is going to look and how much time we had to work on cars and toys. We, as a class decided that one afternoon would not be enough so we are going to work today on cars and have a lesson about stress and strain. 

We finally got our car working with reverse capabilities that the previous group couldn't so I was happy. We finished up all the wiring before we went to lunch and made a new steering wheel. 
New steering wheel
My Beautiful Nails!!!
We left to lunch and then came back to our STRESS-full lesson about stress and strain. We went over the conditions that occur in the perfect world and what the perfect elastic would be. It would retain its shape and never lose it strength.

There was a spa available and I went in thinking that there was a bunch of girls in there doing facemasks and nails. I had my nails painted and I think I’m good luck because after that, a bunch of people came in ~ both males and female.

We Have A Vanderbilt Cohort

The long overdue announcement of the selection of the Vanderbilt cohort back in December.

After an exhausting process of essay writing, reviews, and then interviews, our Interview Panel of Don Ellis and Linda Cohen selected four outstanding students to be the Vanderbilt cohort.

Jae-An Wang from El Cerrito HS and a two time ILCer, Jahnvi Doshi from Hercules HS (just a sophomore), Jackie Rojas Cortez from Richmond HS and Edward Hernandez, also from Richmond HS, will carry on the tradition of WCCUSD ILCers who will serve as the ambassadors for their community while in Nashville.

Today was Delightful...

My Sunday started with going to eat breakfast with Mom. It was wonderful to see Mom after an entire week of not seeing her. We sat at our breakfast table, eating the most important meal of the day, and catching up on a week's worth of adventure. It was great until we had to say goodbye once more.

We went back to our dorms, skipped breakfast because we had already eaten, and then we all went to the mall. I dislike malls, so I spent two hours and a half walking and talking with my cohort members and friends. After that time ended, we went back to the Vandy campus and had hours of free time before and after dinner, 

After dinner, Jahnvi, Jae-An, and I decided to enjoy the marvelous 2 hour and 22 minute long film "The Great Gatsby" before being ushered to our rooms to go to bed. Today, just like last Sunday was calm, yet was quite delightful. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Roller Skating was Much Harder Than I Thought..

We didn't do much Saturday but play Jeopardy in MED101 and go play outside in the rain. After class ended, we went to lunch and then headed off to either roller skating, mini golf, or rock climbing. I chose to go roller skating... By myself... I was pretty nervous because I didn't want to be by myself. I quickly got over my nervousness and got onto the bus. Did I mention this was my first time roller skating? Well.. It was. It was terrible for about an hour and a half. I fell around six times within one hour and was left mortified. I was scared of making myself look like a fool any further, so I decided to get up and change my ways.

I decided to ask one of the proctors to help teach me how to roller skate. I was still helpless. After going around the rink twice and still feeling like I was going to face plant, I came to the conclusion that I wasn't going to learn how to roller skate by having another person hold me from the hand. Being the strong independent woman I know I am, I decided to teach myself. I did so in an hour, and was roller skating faster than the speed of light. I was unstoppable, until the proctors told me it was time to go back to our dorms. 

I went to bed feeling accomplished. I was determined to learn how to roller skate and by the end of the night, I was declared best in town... Just kidding... Even a four year old could pass me on the roller skating rink.

Dr. Cortez is Reporting for Duty.

Thursday was the day I went into the OR. I proudly wore my scrubs to breakfast and rushed with my group into the Vanderbilt University Hospital where we were assigned surgeons and residents. I was assigned to David, who was finishing off his residency to become an anesthesiologist. The room I was assigned to was primarily for surgeries concerning the Urinary system. We had some pretty cool cases and I got to see some really cool stuff throughout the whole OR, but for confidentiality reasons I cannot say what happened. Just take my word for it, the OR was really great and has me reconsidering the profession I may want to go into.

While I was in the operating room, I got to see how the anesthesiologist and medical assistants prepared the patient for the surgery, how cautious the surgeons were while performing some really complicated procedures, and how the anesthesiologist woke the patient up after the surgery. The whole process was incredible and has made me want to go into medical school to possibly become a doctor.

This desire was made even stronger on Friday. My instructors brought in 14 medical professionals to talk about medical school, their career pathway, and why they wanted to go into the career they chose. We had residents in Internal medicine, Dermatology, Med-Peds, EMT, General Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Gynecology, Optometry, Orthopedics, Cardio-thoracic Surgery, Psychiatry, Neuro Surgery, and Pediatrics. We had representation from a lot of the major medical professions. This was an amazing way to get input from many different people with their experience in getting into medical school, applying to residency, and actually working in the field they have chosen to work in. 

Although I loved learning about all of the different medical professions, the one that interested me the most was Psychiatry. I have always been fascinated with the psychology of the brain and how it plays a significant role in mental illness. This rotation was very engaging and it was really cool learning how psychiatry is seen in forensic fields, not just simply within a hospital to help treat people with mental illness. Forensic Psychiatry involves with potentially diagnosing and determining whether individuals going on trial for murder have a mental illness. This got the attention of many of my peers from MED101 and had us attentive for a great amount of time. We even stayed after time ran out to continue asking questions about the awesome field of Psychiatry. 

Both Thursday and Friday were wonderful because they helped me get a better understanding of what I am and not interested in. After these two days, I know that I want to learn more about the field of psychiatry and look much more into the different cases that are seen in the OR.

Lazy Sunday

I love waking up in the morning and realizing that you still have time to sleep. Unfortunately, that's not what happened today, since we decided to meet up for brunch with Mom. The place we ended up going to was decent, although Edward didn't enjoy his food at all, it seems. But other than the food, it was good to hear that Mom was doing okay. 

Breakfast was so filling that all I had for lunch was a plate of tomatoes. Oh boy. This kind of shows how relaxed (or boring, if you want to think about it that way) today was: I have to go into my eating choices for something to write about.

After lunch, VSA had a trip to the mall planned, but we didn't have enough buses. Out of the three buses, only two had air conditioning, and it was hot. After desperately praying, my proctor group was herded onto one of the cooled buses, luckily; however, we had to sit three to a seat, and I ended up in the aisle, meaning that for the whole ride my butt was literally half of the seat, suspended. I arrived at the mall uncomfortably moist, as did many other VSAers.

Our time at the mall wasn't anything to write home about, since we just spent most of the time shopping for clothes. I didn't buy anything (spending money is so difficult when it's your own!).

The rest of the evening was chill. I just played piano with some other people for a little while, then went upstairs to watch The Great Gatsby (I'll watch any Leonardo DiCaprio movie) with Jackie and Jahnvi in one of the seminar rooms. 

Tomorrow we head into the last couple of days we have to finish the car projects. Wish us luck...

From Beignets to Forever 21

I woke up at 8:53 today. And I had to be downstairs to meet Mom at 9. I quickly got ready, and
Proctor group after shopping
walked out looking pretty decent, surprisingly. The cohort members and Mom were reunited, and we went to a restaurant called The Rows where we got to eat tasty beignets. They were soo delicious!

After eating our brunch, we got back to the dorms just in time for lunch. We didn't even have room to fit salads in our stomachs. After lunch, we all went to the mall. We were given a bit less than three hours, so I had to rush. I wanted to find the cheapest clothing that looked cute, AND could fit me. That was pretty hard to find, but I ended up buying two warm full-sleeve tops for 7 dollars total at Forever 21. 
"AWESOME: Example: See above kid."
After the mall, we had some free time, and I spent time with friends in the basement. Then we had dinner, and the saddest thing happened: they ran out of vegan burgers. I ended up getting a cheese pizza instead. After dinner, we had more free time, and they played The Great Gatsby. I ended up watching it, because I had never watched it before and heard that it was an amazing movie. Honestly, I don't know how I managed to get out of that room without a tear drop rolling down my face, but I did. 

We had a proctor group meeting, and Taylor did my nails, which look gorgeous right now. In fact, I'm having fun looking at my nails as I type this blog at the moment. We ended the meeting on a fun note, and crashed to bed. 

Wiring! Go-Karts!! & Mall!!

On the 24th, it was a long day of working on the toys and cars for the children with disabilities. Our team has the hardest job because our little guy was way too big for the Lightning McQueen cars. We were given a car with WAY too complex wiring. Our teacher, Amanda, told us that the best thing to do was to put the potentiometer next to the battery so that it allowed for backwards capability. The potentiometer does not allow reverse current so the problem we faced was that the battery wasn't able to charge. The entire day was spent trying to figure out the wiring problem with the help out teacher, Amanda. We were on trial and error mode from after breakfast until lunch and from lunch to before my yoga arête. We finally found out what to do.......only that is was about 5 min before we had to clean up to leave. I was really disappointed, but at least we know what we are going to do when we get back on Monday. 

I had the last day of Arête class which was yoga. I was so happy because I wasn’t enjoying the class for my inability to bend like the other students. The last day of yoga was actually more interesting because I got to sit for a long time which I was actually pretty bad. 

There was Open Mic night which I was going to perform in, but I was never called up. I went to the game room for the longest time as I could. I played monopoly and a trivia game as long as we were allowed down in the lobby and had many mock-tails (cocktails without alcohol) for fun.

Our class got owned in a sporting match against people in wheelchairs. We tried out how it was to play against them and it is pretty difficult. The maneuverability is way better in a wheelchair designed for sports and it was way easier on the arms.

Students were able to decide to go rock-climbing, skating, or mini-golfing. I have not gone to any of the 3 before so I went mini-golfing and lucked out because we, the mini-golfers had the chance to go go-karting. I had such a blast. I was in the last group to go and my friend, Mohammed, goes in the car in front of me and I got in the fastest car. We raced off, and on the first lap, Mo, went ahead and made me spin out. I had to wait until I was moved back because it does not have reverse capabilities.  I’m off and this girl makes herself spin out in front of me and I move away and start tail gating people and not I’m right behind Mo and I yell out, “Guess whose back." He was so scared because he knew it’s easy to make people spin out so he's yelling sorry and backs away and I pass him. It was AMAZING!!!

Mom came to pick us up today in the morning and we went to the Row which had a breakfast that tasted pretty bad for me. I really didn't like it. The sauce I had with my food was just tasted really badly. I was really excited because we were going to head to the mall and I was going to go bowling for the first time. I’ve never had the chance to go nor anyone to go with. I tried going once when I was in California, but it was full so we went back home without trying.

THE BALLS!!!!!!!
We went to the mall and my group and I decided to go bowling, which I had never done, so I was happy, but it turns out the proctor bails on us so we had no idea where else to go, so we basically spent 3 hours just dilly-dallying and walking around with no goal. On the upside, we bought some balls that splat on the floor because they are made of silicon and water which was busted open over our proctor’s head before we went back into the buses.

Arcade Where The Bowling Ally Was

Saturday, July 23, 2016

On the Rocks

My fingers are pretty much dead, so I'll try to make this quick; not a lot happened, so this shouldn't be too hard...

The most important parts of today were class and rock climbing. In class, we weren't supposed to be working today, for whatever reason, so the TA, Arman, took us to an empty classroom and showed The Princess Bride on a projector screen. I had heard that the movie was really good from nearly all my friends, and they weren't wrong. The acting was so bad (perhaps intentionally) that it was hilarious, and I liked it. After the movie, we went out to discover that the other class (Medicine, Health, and Society/Med School 101) had been outside the whole time, having a water fight and then playing ultimate frisbee in the pouring rain. I'm still feeling the jealousy.

It was one rocky road to the top.
I'm not sorry at all, by the way.
After dinner, VSA divided into our group activities, which for me was rock climbing! I was a bit nervous, as I always am with physical activities, but things turned out just fine. Better than fine, actually; it was one of the best times I've had since I got here! After putting on a harness that felt...uncomfortable, and a quick tutorial, we were free to explore the rock climbing gym as we pleased. Me being the naive person I am, I decide to try the hardest, tallest walls first.

Of course, around ten minutes later my arms and fingers are barely able to flex.

I had more success with some of the smaller walls, and managed to reach the top of a few of them, but I ended up sooo tired; me and some other people in the group took turns massaging each other's fingers and arms just to get them un-tensed. 

Even though not much happened today, I still had a lot of fun, especially going climbing. My fingers are about to fall off though...can't wait to feel super sore tomorrow morning...

Not a Saturday But a Rocky-Day

Today was such a relaxed and fun day; it was amazing. I had my usual Cap n' Crunch cereal for
Greg and I playing wheelchair tennis
breakfast, and then we headed to the recreation center with the Mental Health and Society class to play wheelchair sports and experience how it is. Now, I am horrible at sports as I am. Put me into a wheelchair, and it turns even worse. The wheelchairs for sports are different, and have tilted wheels, making them much easier to control and spin around. We got to try out tennis, badminton, and basketball. I could hardly make it past a serve, or even shoot a ball in the hoop. 

After that was lunch, and then we watched Princess Bride together as a class after. It was a pretty good movie, and some of my friends had watched the movie so many times that they had the lines memorized and said them as the movie went on.

After the movie was over, and class, we had soft time. Jackie, Jae-An, Greg, and I went to go out to eat some tacos. Those tacos were probably the most delicious thing I've had this week. We then had dinner, and I ended up eating just a salad. 

Next came the thing I had been waiting for since the beginning of this week: rock climbing!! It was so fun to do, and everyone was so supportive of each other. I climbed until my arms were so sore that they were practically numb. In fact, it sort of hurts as I am typing this blog up right now. But the soreness is worth all the fun I had while climbing. Will I ever go rock climbing again though? Of course I will. That shouldn't even be a question. 
Me halfway there (I just really liked this picture)
Started from the bottom now I'm here