Wednesday, August 29, 2012

About Me

Hi! I'm Jackie, I'm a Fulbright Scholar to France, and this is my blog. I will be spending the next year in Caen, France doing chemistry research at the CRISMAT lab. My plane takes off September 30th, and I officially arrive in France October 1st. Woohoo! As you can probably imagine, I'm just a little excited. The next year should be an incredible journey, and you are welcome to come along for the ride. Before we get started, just a little bit more in depth about me, what I'm doing, and my general future plans. Side note: this is kind of a long post, but I'm kind of chatty. Sorry.

Originally from Indianapolis, my family moved six times to finally settle in Atlanta, GA. No, my dad isn't in the military; he's just another member of Corporate America relocating as necessary. People always give you a look when you say you've moved six times, as if it's a foreign concept. I don't think it's been a bad thing for us at all; quite the contrary I assure you. My sister and I survived very well. On the whole I think it's been an advantage really. The only places where it really shows that I've moved a lot are 1) I tend towards introversion and 2) my middle school education. I had 4 different middle schools which means that there was a certain amount of jumbling in there. Different school districts organize their curriculum differently. For example, X Middle School has Life Science in 6th grade and Physical Science in 7th grade whereas Y Middle School does the opposite. For me personally, this meant I had more Physical/Natural Science than Bio/Life Sciences in middle school. I also for some reason ended up taking Computer Science four times, but never managed to have art. Fortunately, our last move was right before 8th grade, so since then it's been pretty straightforward. That's life for you. The people I don't understand are the ones who have lived in one house their entire lives. That is a foreign concept to me.

I went to college at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC where I majored in Chemistry and minored in French. I actually just got my diploma in the mail, so that's cool. I was a McNair Scholar there, which put me in contact with the wonderful people in the Office of Fellowships and Scholar Programs, but more about them later. I played saxophone in the marching band and basketball pep band all four years. I organized Scholar Buddies, a student mentoring program, for three years. I did undergraduate research for three years, including a summer where I worked in the lab full time. I volunteered with Carolina Science Outreach, a fledgling organization that seeks to increase public awareness of and interest in science, particularly with kids. I was a member of the South Carolina Honors College and did my honors senior thesis on the Honors Senior Thesis, very meta I know. After my freshman year, I spent five weeks in a language immersive program in Tours, France. Last summer I spent 10 weeks in Paderborn, Germany in a chemistry internship. I know what you're thinking: this girl needs a greater variety of interests. Trust me, I'm working on it. I read voraciously, and I like learning new random things.

As I mentioned previously, I will be spending next year researching at the CRISMAT lab in Caen on a Fulbright Scholarship. The Fulbright is a national fellowship on the scale of a Rhodes, Marshall, or Truman. The Fulbright supports Research Grants and English Teaching Assistantships throughout the world, which I personally think is really awesome. I know two people who are right now in South Korea teaching English thanks to Fulbright scholarships, which is so mind-boggling. I am not going to South Korea; frankly I'm not that brave. Plus, I think my mom would kill me. I am going to France. Caen (rhymes with non) is located in Normandy, in the North of France. I've provided this handy dandy map that I found on the Google.

This is just a regional map, so if you really really care, Caen is in Basse-Normandie. For the rest of the world, Caen is near the English Channel and has weather similar to jolly old England. I'll admit I'm not looking forward to that. My snowboots are cute, but I'm a southern girl. I will miss the heat and humidity. I am looking forward to my research. I'm joining an on-going project in the lab, so specifics will get worked out when I get there, but the plan is to research multiferroic crystalline materials. More on those later. My general research interests are inorganic materials synthesis. I like making new stuff, and seeing what it does, and seeing what we can learn from it so we can make more new stuff. There's so much about the world we don't know. Any scientist will tell you, everything we've learned so far is just a drop in the bucket. There's so much to learn. Anyway, that's what I'll be doing, for the next 8 months (so more of an academic year). More details of course as we get closer.

After I get back to the US, I will be starting graduate school at Northwestern University where I will be pursuing a doctoral degree in inorganic chemistry. Chicago is an awesome city and I'm really looking forward to Northwestern. There was this bittersweet moment when I got the Fulbright, when I just thought, aw but now I have to wait a year before I go to Northwestern. It was a short moment, because I'm really excited about France, but it was there. Sometimes you just know you've got the right place. I knew when I set foot on the USC campus that it was home, and I knew when I visited Northwestern that it was the right choice. I'm hopeful, and fairly confident, that I will have that same feeling when I arrive in Caen.

Ok, so this turned out quite a bit longer than I had anticipated, but as I said before, I'm chatty. If you prefer concise, succinct writers, I am not your girl. Sorry. Of course, to read or not to read is entirely your choice.