OH MY SUZY AND ALL…. months slipped by. MONTHS. I suppose summer will do that to you. I spent it free and daring and bicoastal.. but alas, September came and with it huge life changes in my daily world. School started, and inform you on what that is like, I am going to paste an email that was sent to family a few weeks pack..
I thought it’d be nice to send out a little report about the big academic adventure I’ve just begun this fall. And others of you I hope are just interested to hear!
After nearly 2 years of deliberation… (should I or shouldn’t I?) and a summer of mostly cold-feet (will grad school be right for me? too overwhelming? or just not that interesting??), the big day came and I found myself surreally sitting in a classroom again after 7 years – my first day towards a Masters of Public Health.
To my very pleasant surprise, I was instantly awoken and excited to be in this! Studying public health feels like a far departure from the fun I had roaming around Hollywood studios and otherwise enjoying much freedom the past handful of years, but it is a great step up from the service industry of late and truly ties together my interest in the health food movement as a social necessity as well as just an interest to do something meaningful in my next career – something to make each day feel like a contribution to this world.
Not to mention, getting a degree that is actually in demand in tough economic times. The movements all the way from Michelle Obama down to a small city like Portland are exciting and growing. Portland is one of the leading places for work on sustainable food and nutritional education. Farm to Cafeteria programs, community gardens, year round farmers markets, etc..
A student a year ahead at PSU mentioned that one of the biggest dilemmas about the MPH program is that students are making connections in field work and internships and they are getting offered jobs before finishing the degree and having to decide to take the job or finish school…. I said, my friend, that’s NO dilemma!!!
The classes are all very intense, but stimulating. Tomorrow I will finish 3 weeks and perhaps I waited to send this email to assure I could maintain sanity in the midst of “Epidemiology Survey”, probably the hardest of the classes, looking in serious depth at the study of disease, epidemics, and interventions. Lucky for me its much more conceptual than mathematical, and I can handle that. Down the road I will have to take “BioStatistics” – eek!
My other 2 classes are more broad introductions – Public Health Foundations and Health Behavioral Theory – one class taught by a professor who spent most his career at UC Berkeley only to have actually worked with and TAUGHT 2 of my favorite food-interest writers today – Micheal Pollan and Marion Nestle. The other class is with a very interesting woman who started as an E.R. doctor, got into trauma studies and got her Psych MD studying PTSD – now she is a leading expert and works with the US Military in training programs that work with returning soldiers and stress disorders. So I’m thrilled to be around such influential people who have decided to make little old Portland State University their homes.
Campus life is great to be back to. I’m just here 3 days a week. I forgot how much “free” and interesting stuff is available on the campus scene. State of the art technologies, state of the art fitness center, and young hopeful people! And I won’t deny a few bars. I write this now from one of the many Portland microbreweries that opened an annex on campus, actually serving a Portland State Indian Pale Ale on tap…. yeah, thats right!
I’m working about 2 days a week at the cafe still for a little extra income. The owners like me enough to offer me as much or as little work as I wanted, probably since I’ve been there since they opened and seen pretty much 99% of the staff come and go. I’m like a grandfather figure there, believe it or not. I figured it’s worth it to take the offer and keep my face there a little… see friends and regulars and get my head out of the books a little. And I have gone back to working a day a week as a volunteer at Outside In – I worked with them much more when I first came to Portland and the organization is partially my inspiration for pursuing this degree. I have made good friends with staff there and on Fridays, I spend my lunch cooking (mostly) good healthy food options for Portland’s large homeless youth population. Plus, it’s the type of organization to potentially hire me down the road.
My household is great… still with same 2 friends. Now 2 cats, and what was once 4 chickens are down to 3…. (nothing bad happened, we had to send the rooster off to a local farm). Still raking in yummy fresh eggs and veggies from the garden and its a very comfy home to be. (We did have a fish, for about 4 days.) With the return of the Portland winter rain comes my favorite thing… family dinner parties! Good news is I’ve befriended a fishing enthusiastic who has a winters worth of frozen salmon on hand… YUM!
Well, I’ve yapped enough. It’s good practice, I presume – as it sounds like graduate school is highly focused on being about to talk about what you know. And everyone reading this knows I’m down to TALK!
All my love and peace to you all this day, please be in touch anytime,