I receive some pretty interesting comments so from now on, I'd like to use one as a post every so often. Here goes:
Being a minority nontraditional graduate student in science is very courageous and cutting edge.
While I'm painfully aware of the dearth of minorities in the medical profession and in STEM subjects, I never see myself as doing anything special. Having tried everything else to have career satisfaction and found some but not nearly enough (especially in the Pharmaceutical industry), I'm just happy and blessed to now be able to give 1000% to something I enjoy.
The thing is you are vulnerable like the typical 24, 27, or 30 year old grad student in training yet may not get the same support because you are a nontrad age. That's so unfair and then compound this with being a minority..
This is a VERY true statement. However the significant difference between myself and someone younger is that I've been in the game long enough to know what pitfalls to avoid and know when to move on. For example, some recent changes in the way things are being done in my current department have raised some serious red flags for me, situations that a typical grad student may underestimate or chose to plow through. With many years of experience being in academic environments, I know after a little over a month, that it would be in my best interest to get my PhD elsewhere. As in with an NIH group elsewhere. Doing dissertation research at the NIH not only puts you in direct contact with folks at the top of their fields, it pays more and has far better benefits. Most importantly, there's a certain amount of unspoken "protection" a predoc gets being there because of the NIH prestige factor afforded the PI, the home institution, and the student for being able to put "NIH" on their CV's. In other words, a dissertation student at the NIH is far less likely to have political bull crap hold up their getting granted the PhD and at my age, I'm so not interested in wasting ANY time.
As for the unfairness of it all I see that as life, MANY things in life are unfair. But because I so thoroughly enjoy what I'm doing, I choose to focus on that and not all the obstacles, both real and created, that will come along on my path to the MD/PhD.
Your blog is an inspiration for others who are similar. It's difficult for people especially older minorities to keep going to school with the socioeconomic realities they face more.
When I started this blog, I realized that there weren't many minorities in graduate and professional programs and so my primary goal was to let others know that we may be few and far between in numbers, but that we are out here! And you're right, finances make things VERY difficult for people no matter who you are especially given the fact that most graduate and medical students have parents with MD and/or PhD's. That fact alone creates a HUGE difference in access to the right information and resources needed to achieving such challenging goals. But it CAN be done!
Finally, I'd like to thank this anonymous poster for the words of encouragement and for the other comments as well!