Hayley-Go-Lucky

Thoughts from a neuroscience pre-med journeying through JHU.

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Why Hopkins?

It’s no secret that I love this place. You can read here about how my friends make Hopkins a home, here about the amazing opportunities this school has presented to me, or even here about how I chose this school because of a waffle machine (sort of). But you are probably sick of reading about me gushing on and on, so I asked some of my closest friends to explain why they chose this school, and why they are still here!

Martha Melsom: 

“When I initially picked hopkins I thought the school was great because of all the opportunities it offered in terms of unique classes and accessibility to do research. While I have been able to take advantage of both of those here what’s really meant the most to me is the people. From my closest friends who I got randomly assigned to live with freshman year in the AMRs or to the sisters I chose by joining alpha phi, my hopkins experience would not be the same without them. They inspire me in so many ways to strive for my best and to pursue what I want and for that I am truly grateful to this school for bringing all of these wonderful people together!”

Fun fact: I met Martha through Alpha Phi!

Fun fact: I met Martha through Alpha Phi!

Julia Moyett:

“The question “Why Hopkins” is difficult to answer because there is no real answer (forgive the ambiguity, too many of my friends are philosophy majors). It’s not a question that I could answer to many of my family members or friends from home while I was deciding between universities at the end of Senior Year. As many second semester seniors do, I of course had a go to response. Usually it was ‘The research opportunities!’ or ‘The connections after college will be unparalleled’ but if we are being completely candid here – that’s what a blog is for, right? – I wasn’t entirely confident in my decision to attend Hopkins until I stepped foot on campus. My answer then to the question ‘Why Hopkins’ is that I convinced myself it would give me the best opportunities for my vision of a successful future. My answer to the question ‘Why are you still at Hopkins’ is because I have never felt more comfortable in myself and my surroundings than when I am here. I’m surrounded by support from friends, who are now my family, faculty, and some of the brightest minds in the world. I am free to lay out on the beach with Hayles for entire Saturdays or stay in the Spring Fair office until the wee hours of the morning mapping out this year’s Food Quad. I can cook, roam the Farmer’s Market, and eat Carma’s at my own free will and choose classes based on a life path that I envision for myself. Hopkins is what I make of it – a home. ”

Julia and Hayley As Tina and Amy= Halloween Success

Julia and Hayley As Tina and Amy= Halloween Success

Olivia Rodriquez:

“I actually stumbled upon Hopkins the August before my senior year of high school. I had heard of it before of course, but I hadn’t thought to apply until my brother mentioned it to me. His best friend from high school had come to Hopkins to pursue the same major as interested me, History of Art, and loved it. When I looked into the school, it surprised me by being exactly what I had been looking for all wrapped up into one. In a city, but still with the feel of a college campus; fairly loose distribution requirements to encourage academic freedom and exploration; a fantastic art history department; a club volleyball team to try out for; a variety of study abroad options; and the balance between far enough from and close enough to home. I visited Hopkins once before applying Early Decision and immediately thought it was a place I could call home for four years. As a student, Hopkins has met expectations in some ways and surprised me in others, which is kind of perfect. My experience has been shaped most by my teachers and fellow students with diverse interests, talents, and backgrounds. Though no person or place is perfect, I think that Hopkins is to thank for bringing together this group of people, and I am happy to be a part of it.”

Liv is one of the coolest people you will ever meet. Hands down.

Liv is one of the coolest people you will ever meet. Hands down.

Matty Munoz:

“I really enjoy being at Hopkins because of the people that you can meet here. They are amazing and brilliant individuals, who do amazing and brilliant things, I feel very lucky to be apart of that in any way. I also really enjoy going to Hopkins because it is challenging, I know that I am getting the most out of my education. Finally, I like being in Baltimore. Being from the suburbs of the west coast, I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy living in a big city on the east coast, but Baltimore has grown on me, there is always something to do if you are ever bored, and I really love that about Baltimore.”

Matty Munoz = Moon

Matty Munoz a.k.a. Moon

 

Summer 2015

The snow has barely melted here in Baltimore, but I have already packed away my winter jacket and transitioned from hot to iced coffee every morning. My first fall at Hopkins everyone told me that springtime at Hopkins was an unparalleled experience, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. This year my friends and I have all been in eager anticipation for warm days lying on the Beach, Spring Fair, and Homecoming. Yes, I am looking forward to the coming warmth, but today I am thinking about the summer.

Throwback to Homecoming last spring!

Throwback to Homecoming last spring!

Today I officially decided to stay in Baltimore and work full time at the lab I currently do research in! I love spending as much time at research as possible, so I am looking forward to this position. Too often than not I have to leave immunohistochemistry stains unfinished, or I don’t have time to mount all of the brains. I am excited to be able to spend a significant amount of time developing new experiments and projects!

My lab bench is never this clean...

My lab bench is never this clean…

In addition, almost all of my friends have also decided to stay in Baltimore. My best friend Julia will also be working in her lab and we will begin our lease in the Carlton apartment. The Carlton is a small apartment building on North Charles Street, right across from the tennis courts on campus. Not only is the location ideal, the apartment has a spacious floor plan complete with a balcony.

Last summer Julia and I also stayed in Baltimore to take two semesters of Organic Chemistry. Although we did carve out some time to explore new restaurants, this summer I am excited to have more free time to explore the city. In particular, every summer there is an amazing citywide festival called Artscape. Food trucks assemble, artists put on amazing outdoor galleries, and streets are closed off.

(Briefly) Enjoying Artscape

(Briefly) Enjoying Artscape

Another summer in Baltimore also means many more day trips to D.C, beautiful evening walks at the inner harbor, and fresh produce at the farmers market! I can’t wait.

Can't wait for another summer with this one

Can’t wait for another summer with this one

Farmer's Market Tomatoes simply cannot be beat

Farmer’s Market Tomatoes simply cannot be beat

Two summers ago I was nervous about leaving for college. I had no idea what I wanted to major in and absolutely no idea where my life was heading. I cannot believe how much has changed!

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My Sophomore Spring Semester

It’s already the fifth week of the spring semester and it could not have gone by faster. Although my schedule this semester is pretty similar to the fall, it has been my favorite semester yet! Here is a look at my schedule of 17.5 credits!

My lovely Schedule (I go to lab every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday)

My lovely Schedule (I go to lab every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday)

Nervous System II: This is the second half of the main required course for all neuroscience majors. So far this semester we have covered intracellular signaling, and tomorrow we have a quiz on learning and memory. I learned years ago in AP Psychology all about classical conditioning, but now I know the molecular basis for Pavlov’s classic experiment! This is far and beyond my favorite class of the semester (I guess I chose the right major).

History of Modern Medicine: This class is also a continuation of a class I took first semester. History of Modern Medicine picks up at the Scientific Revolution, right where History of Medicine ended. I’m excited to be learning about germ theory and vaccinations. Dr. Greene, a practicing physician as well as a professor, teaches this class. It is interesting to hear about his prospective on the history of medicine as a part of medicine today.

Women, Health, and Medicine in Modern America: I was very scared to enroll in this class. It is a 300-level course, and upper level in the History of Science and Technology department, which meets once a week for two and a half hours. It is a seminar style class that explores women’s interactions with science, medicine, and health in the late-19th and 20th century United States. It is framed by an interest in medicialization, sex/gender, and feminism. I was so surprised to discover how much I loved this class! As a science major, I have gotten used to lecture style classes with no student interaction. This entire class is based on student participation! For two hours my classmates and I discuss, argue, and debate assigned readings that relate to overarching themes in the class.

Physics II: If you have read any of my blogs, you know I do not like math. I really really don’t. So I was relieved to learn that Physics II is a lot more conceptual than Physics I. This semester the focus is on electricity and magnetism. With a background in chemistry, many of the concepts are familiar to me already!

Physics can be fun (sometimes)

Physics can be fun (sometimes)

Physics II Lab: So far I have really enjoyed the labs of Physics II. Last week we got to play with cathodes and anodes and measured electric potential. The week before we used balloons to describe charge! Much more interesting than classical mechanics if you ask me.

In addition to these classes, I am doing three credits of research at the lab I worked in last semester. I love spending as much time as possible down at the Medical campus working on my projects. As a neuroscience major, I am required to have six credits of research. Not only am I enjoying the work, I am fulfilling major requirements!

Unrelated to my class schedule...but look! It's my parents visiting the Johns Hopkins Hospital!

Unrelated to my class schedule…but look! It’s my parents visiting the Johns Hopkins Hospital!

 

A Clean Slate

If you know me at all, you know that I’m not the cleanest person around. After a couple of weeks my room starts to look like a war-zone. There are clothes everywhere, papers scattered all over my desk, and old coffee mugs in the sink. I’m a very organized person in most areas of my life, yet my room has never been very neat. So this year for my New Years resolution I decided to turn it around.

When I left my apartment in December after finals my brain was fried and my room was a disaster, so I was so thankful when my mom decided to drive me down to Baltimore in January and help clean my room.

She scrubbed every surface and I vacuumed every inch of carpet. The apartment was sparkling-cleaner than the day I moved in. I decided I was going to try my best to keep it that way.

My super clean apartment!!!

My super clean apartment!!!

It’s been six weeks now and my room is still clean! I have been making a conscious effort to stay organized, but its really not that difficult. Little things such as putting my clothes away right after I do laundry or making sure I do dishes the day of cooking are all it takes.

Hopkins can be very stressful, especially around midterms or finals. Usually when I have a test coming up I let my room become unacceptably messy. I used to think I was too busy to focus on anything other than my tests. But coming home to a disaster of a room after a long day at the library just adds to the stress! No matter how busy I am, it is definitely worth it to have a clean room.

I also was under the misconception that having a messy room was okay, because I was organized in every other area of my life.   But trying to stay organized has kept me less stressed and has actually made me a better student. With an orderly desk, it only takes a second to find old notes from past classes or practice tests. I haven’t run out of silverware yet this semester, and trying to find specific items of clothing is no longer a massive scavenger hunt.

Finals Week or the Apocalypse?

Finals Week or the Apocalypse?

I know the transition to college from living at home can be a tricky one, especially when we are asked to suddenly be responsible for cleaning and feeding ourselves with no help (i.e. LAUNDRY). Last fall as a freshman every two weeks my room looked like a bomb had gone off in it. I still feel so sorry for my freshman year roommate. I would let it get to a point where there was not even a clear path to the door through piles of clothes. Then I would do a mass cleaning that took hours until the room was spotless. This semester, I have made an active effort to keep my room clean all the time.

I hated how messy I was freshman year. It definitely did affect my stress level and my performance as a student. Hopefully, I can keep up this behavior for the rest of the semester!

First Days

I’ve always loved the first day of school. Growing up my brother dreaded the end of summer, but I looked forward to meeting new teachers and seeing so many familiar faces. There is a certain feeling about the very first day of school: a fresh start, a clean slate. You don’t know who your teachers are or whom you will sit next to. The first day of school is full of possibilities.

One of my very first, first days of school!

 

I still remember my first day of classes at Hopkins. Everyone rushed around campus, terrified of getting lost or being late. After four years of high school where I pretty much knew all my teachers already, I had no idea what to expect.

First day of freshman year

First day of freshman year

One aspect of college that I had never thought about before was that we are on the semester system. What does this mean? Every year there are TWO first days of school! I love this for many reasons. I took five classes my freshman fall semester, ranging from French to Public Health. I quickly figured out which departments I loved and which I did not. Then second semester I completely adjusted my schedule.   If you don’t like a class, after only a few months you are done forever. If you discover a field that you do love, then there is more time to take even more classes in that discipline second semester.

I came back from winter break to Hopkins to do research over intersession and had an amazing time, but I was eager to start a brand new semester. Here is a look at my first day back at Hopkins (officially) and what my Monday’s will look like this semester.

7:45 am: Surprisingly, I woke up without hitting snooze and got ready for the day. Since I live in Homewood I have a full kitchen. I made a pot of coffee forJulia and I, and we quickly ate some leftover frittata.

Most days it's just a grapefruit

Most days it’s just a grapefruit

8:40 am: Julia and I left Homewood for campus. We brought gym bags and dropped them off in lockers in the library. I then headed over to Bloomberg for Physics II.

9:00 am: I took my seat next to my friend Aidan just in time for Physics II. This first class was full of interesting demonstrations since the topic of Physics II is electricity and magnetism.

10:00 am: My next class of the day is History of Modern Medicine with Professor Greene. Last semester I loved taking History of Medicine so I was excited to take the second half of this course. Three of my closest friends are also in the class so it was exciting to catch up with them!

10:55 am: I sprinted to the JHMI shuttle stop to catch the express bus straight to the Johns Hopkins Medical campus. I had to go in to section mouse brains before an experiment on Wednesday.

The old building in the hospital

The old building in the hospital

2:30 pm: I was back on the JHMI, heading back to campus for my 3 pm class.

2:45 pm: My last class of the day was in Gilman so I hung out in the atrium. I ran into Julia, JHU_Dan, and my friend Alex!

3:00 pm: I was back in class for Women, Health and Medicine in Modern America. This is a History of Science and Technology upper-level class that only meets once a week for two and a half hours. I was a little worried because as a science major I do not have much experience with seminar style classes, but I loved the professor and the open environment of the classroom!

6:00 pm: Julia and I grabbed our gym bags from the library and headed over to the Rec Center to take a yoga class. I’m going to try and go as much as possible this semester. Not only is yoga a great form of exercise, it is a great way to relieve stress.

8:00 pm: We came out of yoga completely starving, so we swung by Eddie’s (the small grocery store near Homewood) to get kale and tomatoes for our favorite pasta dinner.

9:30 pm: It was pretty late, but dinner was finally ready!

We love kale unconditionally.

We love kale unconditionally.

10:30 pm: After showering and getting ready for the next day, Julia and watched a couple of Office episodes while we made nutella crescent rolls for dessert. Season 4 is our absolute favorite.

12:30 pm: Bedtime! I wasn’t used to waking up so early so I was completely exhausted.

My first (second) day of school of sophomore year was very full and exciting. I am excited to see how the rest of my week goes!

Why Hopkins?

I’ve already written many blogs answering the question “why Hopkins?” but there is one reason why I’m happier now than I’ve ever been before. While I love our brick and white campus, and the crab in Baltimore simply can’t be beat, there is something else that makes Hopkins so special.

My grandmother died before I was born. Although I never got to meet her, I know she must have been an amazing woman because she created the loving family I am so lucky to be a part of. My grandmother suffered from primary progressive multiple sclerosis, a chronic autoimmune, inflammatory neurological disease of the central nervous system. Although there are some drugs to mediate relapsing MS, there is no cure for progressive MS.

Some overexposed oligos I stained

Some overexposed oligos I stained

I grew up knowing that my grandmother had died of MS, but I had no idea what that actually meant.   In high school biology I learned about the myelin sheath that covers axons in order to speed up signals in the CNS. Last year I took the course Introduction to Neuroscience with Professor Hendry and I fell in love with the entire field and promptly declared as a Neuroscience major. In Intro to Neuroscience, I learned about oligodendrocytes and their role in the autoimmune disease.

It was frustrating hearing in class “we still do not know the precise cause of MS, or of any cure.” MS affects 2.3 million people worldwide, and that is just an estimate.

So at the end of last year, I went to Professor Hendry for help finding a research position. All neuroscience majors are required to have at least 6 credits of research to graduate. I told him about my interest in MS, and he recommended me to Dr. Calabresi, the director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center.

Over the summer I met all of the members of the small lab and when the fall semester started, I learned immunohistochemistry techniques, profusion and dissection, and recently learned how to crytostat (slice mouse brains into 20 micron sections). I saw oligodendrocytes under a fluorescence microscope for the first time and was amazed. They shine bright green against the blue of all the nuclei, and their processes extend in delicate swirling patterns.

My (very messy) lab bench

My (very messy) lab bench

my (also very messy) lab notebook

My (also very messy) lab notebook

I came in with no research experience and only a superficial knowledge of how multiple sclerosis affects the nervous system. Emily, a PhD in the lab, coached me through profusions, taught me how to keep a lab notebook, and even showed me what it means to be a good scientist. She helped me realize what “the story” looks like in research and how to back it up with evidence.

The Corpus Callosum

The Corpus Callosum

I came back for intersession this winter mainly because I couldn’t wait to be back in the lab. I started my own experiment and I cannot wait to see the data. I am looking at oligodendrocytes and their interactions with axons. This study is also going to help us figure out how long axons can survive without myelin. This is important for progressive MS because the results will help us determine if re-myelinating drugs will be worthwhile. For the first time I feel like I know what I want to do with my life, and how I can positively contribute to society.

Started a new experiment today!

started a new experiment today!

This year I am taking Nervous Systems, the major pre-requisite course for all Neuroscience majors. We learned how to calculate the speed of an action potential based on the Tau and the driving potential for an ion, but what I have learned in lab has been invaluable.   It’s amazing to me that I get to work at the Johns Hopkins Hospital at the center for Multiple Sclerosis. I am (in a very small way) helping find a way to help those with MS. This is why Hopkins is truly an amazing place.

 

Hopkins Holidaze

Although this week marks the beginning of Finals and it’s easy to forget that we are already in the holiday season, there are many ways to enjoy the holidays with Hopkins and in Baltimore!

One of my favorite Hopkins traditions is Lighting of the Quads. Every December, President Daniels leads the countdown to turning on all the lights on campus. There are free donuts, cookies, hot cider and cocoa, and free giveaways for each class. This year sophomores got Class of 2017 gloves!

Lighting of the Quads with friends!

Lighting of the Quads with friends!

Our a cappella groups perform as does the pep band. The All-Nighters, the all-male Hopkins a cappella group sang, “Let it Go” from Frozen and it was a huge hit. In addition, there is a massive fireworks show over Gilman and the library when the lights go on. The quad was filled with people taking a much needed study break.

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Another must see event is “Miracle on 34th Street”. Hampden is a small neighborhood adjacent to campus filled with amazing restaurants like the Grano pasta bar and the Charmery. Every December, 34th Street in Hampden goes all out with lights and decorations.

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The other night, my friends and I went downtown for dinner to RA Sushi, one of my favorite restaurants in Baltimore. After scarfing down our dinner in less than an hour, we decided to walk around the Inner Harbor and go to Little Italy. Little Italy was decorated in so many Christmas lights! We ended up going to an Italian Bakery called Vaccaro’s. We had cappuccinos, tiramisu, hazelnut cake, gelato, and even cannoli. It was extremely indulgent-a great start to the holiday season.

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Even though this week I will spend 90% of my time in the library, Hopkins gives out free donuts, coffee, massages, and cookies throughout finals. It definitely feels like the holiday season!

Minor Details

Right now I am on my train back to Baltimore, and although I’m so sad to be leaving my family behind in Connecticut, I’m excited to be back with my friends. As soon as I get to Hopkins, though, two and a half weeks of non-stop studying for finals begins. This semester I have a final portfolio of short stories and poems due for Introductory to Fiction and Poetry writing, a physics final, a Nervous Systems I final, and a final for History of Medicine.

I miss my family already.

I miss my family already

Weirdly, I’m most excited for History of Medicine. Since most of my classes in the past have been all problem solving based it’s extremely strange to have to write in-class essays. I found that I really love it. In fact, this semester I decided that I am going to minor in the History of Science and Technology!

This is a department I’d never even heard of before. In high school history was always my favorite class, so I decided that even though I’m a Neuroscience major I wanted to take at least one history class each semester. Last spring I discovered a separate history department: The History of Science and Technology department. Separate from the History Department, classes focus on medicine, discoveries, and technology throughout history.

This semester I am in History of Medicine. This is a survey class taught by Dr. Mary Fissell. We covered the practice of medicine from Ancient Greece to 1750. I learned about the original Hippocratic Corpus, the four humors, and why bloodletting was a practice that lasted for centuries.

Blooodletting in Action

Blooodletting in Action

I love this class because two days a week Dr. Fissell lectures, but then one day a week the class breaks up into small sections of approximately 10 people to discuss primary sources.

My friend Julia (future roommate!) is also taking a class in the department and absolutely loves it! She is taking an upper level class with Seth LeJacq. The class covers the developments in forensic medicine up until the 21st century. It’s a small 15-person class that also blends lectures with discussion. She is also considering minoring in History of Science and Technology too!

Next semester I will be taking a class called Women, Health, and Medicine in Modern America. This class will focus on Women’s health in the late 19th and 20th century America. I’m very excited to get into upper level classes in the department.

 

 

DC Daycation!

One perk of Baltimore’s central location is the city’s proximity to DC! For only $7, the MARC train runs during the week and on the weekends from Penn Station to Union Station. For my birthday last summer my friend, Julia, took me to DC for an amazing one-day vacation from organic chemistry. A couple of weekends ago it was my turn to take her back to DC for her birthday!

It was a gorgeous day

It was a gorgeous day

 

It was unseasonably warm so we walked all around the National Mall, snapping pictures like tourists. We then went to the American History Museum and spent at least an hour at the First Ladies exhibit alone.

 

Then we went down to Georgetown, courtesy of the DC Circulator (a new public transportation addition that is definitely copying our Charm City Circulator!) to meet Julia’s best friend from home who goes to Georgetown!

 

Instead of going to Georgetown Cupcakes, we went to Baked and Wired. I highly recommend it. Hands down the best cupcake I’ve ever had in my life.IMG_2936

 

Next up was dinner. We ended up eating amazing Italian food at Floriana, but then rushed to get back to Union Station to catch the last MARC train back! Per tradition, we got McDonalds at the station for the trip back.

 

I had a great time exploring another city and hanging out with my best friend, but the day seemed truly perfect because I needed a break from Hopkins. I love our campus, but after a few months seeing the same people and the same buildings can be tiring. In addition, by fall break I hadn’t seen my family since August and homesickness began to creep in.

 

Yes, I love Hopkins, but being on campus for so long can sometimes be depressing. Getting to go to DC, one of my favorite cities for the day was such an amazing treat!

Me and My Best Friend

Me and My Best Friend

Being Pre-Med at Hopkins

While Sophomore year has presented many different challenges and experience already, one of the best parts I’ve found is that after a year, I can finally feel involved in my extracurriculars.  In particular, I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the Johns Hopkins Women’s Pre-Health Leadership Society.  I applied last intersession, and I am so happy I did. 

The Women’s Pre-Health Leadership Society

One of the main reasons why I became interested in WPHLS was the BLAST Program.  BLAST is an after school tutoring program where a group of WPHL’s members goes to an all girls middle school in Baltimore.  Each week we do a different science experiment in order to get more young women interested in STEM subjects (last week we did chromatography with skittles and M&Ms!).

In addition, WPHLS has become one of my favorite communities.  Being pre-med at Hopkins can sometimes be extremely daunting, but it is comforting to know that I have a group of 30 girls I can go to with any questions.  We also have a strong group of alumni WPHL’s members who fill us in on their experiences and give us advice.

Through WPHLS, I met my mentor, Maddie, a second year med student at Johns Hopkins.  I cannot believe that I have such an amazing and intelligent woman helping me through all my pre-med questions and anxieties!

Another event WPHLS does is a conference every spring.  Last spring the conference was Bridging the Gap: Presenting the Present and Future Women of Medicine.  At least fifteen female surgeons, researchers, and clinicians came from Hopkins Hospital, University of Maryland, and New York to speak about their experiences in the field of medicine.  It was one of the most inspiring conferences I’ve ever been to!

Last spring's Conference!

Last spring’s Conference!

I know that for many people, being pre-med at Hopkins can seem overwhelming and scary, but clubs like WPHLS, AED (The Pre-Medical Honor Society), and LEM (The Latino Pre-Health Society) help to make the Hopkins Pre-Med experience one of the most amazing ones!

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