Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dr. John

My friend John wrote about his job as a park ranger in the Redwood National Park very nicely. I liked the way he wrote and posted 4 or 5 of his transmissions on life as a park ranger. As of late the good Doctor has returned to Ely Minn. and continues his education. As he has always been, John is restless. I asked him to write something I could post because I knew it would be a good read, insightful and honest. John always gets me to thinking.....

Missing Home

"Toto, I don't think we are in Kansas anymore."
Did I really think it would be easy? You know - embarking on a new
career at 40 years old. I wanted to pack up the car and drive to
Atlanta last week. But I held off - a friend told me that I might want
to wait until morning. And after I had slept on it I changed my mind.
What did I take for granted when I uprooted? The support network of
good friends that I had built over 8 years. What the hell was I
thinking to take that so lightly? I felt like the walls were closing in
on me when I called my friend. A weird and awful feeling. I didn't
know what to do with myself. Is that what they mean when "you are
beside yourself?" I'm learning a new culture here. I started the
integrated biosciences grad program at University of Minnesota so that I
might be able to teach one day. These professors and colleagues of mine
in class have no idea of what its like to be outside the ivory tower.
Now I know why the liberal colleges are seen as elite. They are! They
are isolated. There is no sincerity here and things don't work on a
handshake and your word. Everyone is vying for a position - like a
horse race; who is going to get the inside rail on the homestretch? I
love my classes though. I am having no problem with the work load;
advanced organic chemistry, analysis of variance, and integrated
biosystems. The other day we had to introduce ourselves in the class
and tell everyone our background. I explained briefly that I had done
contract work with the USDA in disease eradication, had owned and managed a vet practice for 7 years, served on a city zoning board, and
that now I was pursuing academia to teach one day. One girl said that
she was a vet as well but was not changing careers. She was a Mexican
citizen and accepted into the program with a salary because she will be
teaching some undergraduate biology laboratory. Meanwhile, I have a
6300 dollar tuition bill. I asked her the next day, "Have you ever
practiced?" She said, "No, as vets in Mexico, our value is in grooming
"You're not changing careers because you have never been in one!"
She got accepted to "diversify the student population." I don't add
diversity? I wouldn't add to the undergraduate students' learning
experience at the University of Minnesota? Really?