Sometimes I just cannot wait to get the heck out of school. I’ve been a student since I was what, 4 years old? That’s a while, folks! Aside from Summer vacations and a semester off in Fall 2005, I haven’t had a significant break from being a full-time student in over 20 years. Stick a fork in me, I am D.O.N.E.
But then something like yesterday’s event happens, and I think I’ll never be able to learn everything I want to know.
I was the publicity subcommittee chair for UMD’s GRID: Gradate Research Interaction Day, an event in which graduate students compete against one another for monetary awards to continue their research or apply towards traveling costs for professional conferences. I had many roles yesterday, one of which was to be time keeper in three sessions: Exploring Identities & their Expression; Advances in Technology, Biotechnology; and Pushing the Boundaries of Science 2. In all honesty, the last two sessions resulted in my brain spazzing out then going numb. I could not, for the life of me, follow what the students were saying. (No, seriously…what in the heck is CAM-mediated endocytosis? And no, I cannot evaluate selenite-loaded chitosan/TPP nanoparticles.) But the judges were impressed, so I know the presenters did well! The first session fascinated me.
The first brave soul, who eagerly took to the podium despite the early 9:00am start time, discussed the understanding of sex amongst people with disabilities. To think that people with disabilities do not think about, wish to engage in, or are concerned about their bodily functions during sex is ludicrous. Therefore, counselors (as she is training to become) must approach the topic of sex with their patients respectfully. So many Americans become outraged at a Prime Time TV sitcom that is full of sexual innuendos and bedroom scenes, and refuse to discuss sex with someone they believe shouldn’t be engaging in sexual activities. Well wake up y’all. Yes, teen pregnancy rates are down by two percent (following an “alarming” two year long increase), but that is no reason to give up sex education efforts. (Sex-Ed can include abstinence as an option, people. Don’t get all huffy on me.) We need to be practical and discuss safe, and smart sex. Even, no…especially, to those who we don’t want to think are having sex, or are thinking about having sex. This includes teens, tweens, seniors, and people with physical and intellectual disabilities.
Another panelist discussed the topic of “surveillance and sexuality” (i.e. voyeurism) in the Second Life-inspired online game Red Light Center. While the only no-show of the morning, much to my disappointment, was to discuss Food, Flesh and Fetish: Black Masculine Desire in Hip-Hop Music. Maybe I have viewed one-too-many VH1: Behind the Music: Insert name of Rap Star here but I think it would have been nice to hear an educated opinion on this topic.
And for everyone not interested in sex and Hip-Hop, a few pointers:
- Learn to use a laser pointer. If your hand is shaking, or if you are not looking at the screen in which you are pointing, you will not point to the thing you want people to see. I don’t think the light switch on the wall is really applicable to your argument that you can Trace Chemical Weathering with Lithium Isotopes
- Do NOT read directly from, or facing, the PowerPoint. For one, the audience cannot hear you. Two, the screen isn’t evaluating you and potentially awarding you with prize money; the judges are.
- Get to the point! While it is interesting to know how you came up with your research topic, in the end all that matters is that you have done something productive with your time as a student. Make us get as excited as you are about this project that has taken up three years of your life.
And on a side note, Countdown to Las Vegas: 16 days