High School; Prom Proposal, The Calculator

Back in my high school, we did not have the typical “prom” that most public schools have.  We had what was called “Jr/Sr” (Pronounced: Junior-Senior), which basically meant that only juniors and seniors of my high school could participate in this social event.  Our Jr/Sr involved traveling to a lavish place and eating a fancy dinner (which I later realized was NOT common for most public schools).  How the students acquired their dates was the same though.  Most students proposed to one another with cheesy flowers and letters as would be for any other ordinary high school prom proposal, but this one instance was a bit different.

I was a senior back when this happened and was good friends with this one junior girl (let’s call her Christina).  She wanted to ask out one of my senior friends (let’s call him Brian) to Jr/Sr.  Both were the top students in their class and shared similar class schedules, so she thought why not.  This proposal stood out because she had the nerdiest way of asking him out and ran through the plan with me.

First, she would approach him after math class and explain to him that she has trouble with her graphing calculator.  Brian, being the friendly math and tech whiz that he is, would attempt to do his best to fix the problem.  Unbeknownst to him, she inputted an equation on her TI-84 graphing calculator that would graph out the word “PROM” if he pressed the ‘Graph’ button, which she will consistently urge him to do while she tries to explain her situation.  It was as simple as that, but things got complicated when she tried it.

(Prepare for awkward and cringe-worthy material.)

After AP math class, most of the students rushed to leave for the next class.  Brian, walking out of the classroom and talking to some of his friends, was just about to do the same when Christina stopped him and started to explain to him that her calculator was acting weird.  Everything seemed to be going as planned … until one of Brian’s friends (let’s name him Jon) stepped in offering to help.  Christina then had to explain to Jon that it may just be a simple solution that only needed one person to fix.  Brian, confused by Christina’s explanation, starts to tear apart at the calculator’s battery forcing it to reset and then starts messing with the Input functions where the original equation that spelled out the word “PROM” would be displayed.  (I felt her horror and dismay from where I was standing from.  And where was I when all this was happening?  In a little corner behind the lockers trying to record what was supposed to be a sweet proposal for her to look back on.  Guess I’m deleting that video.)

Things got more complicated as time progressed, so Christina eventually took back the calculator, input the original “PROM” function back, pressed the ‘Graph’ button herself, and gave the calculator back to Brian.  You can see Brian’s expression go from confusion to completely shocked (with a sprinkle of happiness) after she gave him back the calculator.  I could hear from the distance Brian saying, “Are you serious?”  Then Christina said, “Yes!” as she pulled out a rose from her backpack.  “Will you go to Jr/Sr with me, Brian?”

That was a fun experience to observe.  Christina ended up asking for the video still despite what happened, and we all had a good laugh at it at the end of Jr/Sr.  If you are unsure or embarrassed of asking out someone, just know the outcome will probably be better than this proposal.

Stay and finish strong.

Parent’s Expectation: Grad School

My decision to go to graduate school was not as graceful or captivating as most people would think.  I did not have an epiphany or an insatiable desire to revolutionize the world with my ingenious mindset or anything.  I was just sort of forced to go.  Of course, I do not regret going, and I believe that the transition from undergraduate to graduate school is definitely a huge feat in someone’s life.  I just thought that there should have been a better reason to going to graduate school.

I was influenced by many factors.  One of which was the perceived notion that success would be greater if you continue to further your education.  Another was my actual desire to follow my passion, help the community, and preserve the environment for future generations.  But overall, the biggest contributor was that if my older sister went to graduate school, then so should I.  Since I grew up having strict parents with high expectations, this was the norm.  Their mindset was that if one person, one relative, or even one random person on the news can achieve something great, then so should I or everyone else.  This put a lot of pressure on me because I was not even sure if I was good enough to be admitted into any school of my choice, and I had no idea what factors would be weighed in when the graduate school admissions looked at my application.

My parents expected a brand-named school such as Harvard or Yale, but realistically I knew I had to aim lower.  Neither of them knew the difficulties that came with undergraduate college since both did not attend.  It is much easier said than done in their case.  Although I understand that my parents wanted the best for me and my future, it is difficult to explain and persuade them that not all of their expectations can be met.  I cannot get A’s in every class, maintain my health, acquire a high paying job as a student, and call or visit them every weekend without sacrificing the time required to meet another one of their expectations.  I love my parents and am humbled by the amount of sacrifice they gave for me to be able to get to where I am today but even to this day; they still expect a lot from me.  I just hope they understand that I too have limitations.

I am sure many people are in the same boat as me.  Just know that your parents are not pushing you for their own selfish reasons.  They are doing it because they want you, their beloved child(ren), to have what they could never have achieved.

Stay and finish strong.

Deciding to go to Graduate School

Although I listed multiple reasons (in my Parent’s Expectations: Grad School [Link: https://wp.me/p9HtaM-H%5D) as to how I got persuaded into pursuing graduate school, the following story is how I received that initial spark of inspiration.

After finally deciding to leave my pursuit towards becoming a Marine Officer near the beginning of my third year of undergraduate, I was determined to just focus on completing my studies as best I possibly could.  Starting that day, I basically just went to class and studied, which is nothing different from any other undergraduate student.  As I went through the routine of going to class, studying in the library, and completing homework late at night, I (eventually) learned to love it.  Yes, the classes were more difficult and increased in difficulty as I progressed towards my upper divisions, but I loved the challenges that came with it.  I was more fascinated with chemistry (or maybe I was just less fatigued and more awake ever since leaving the Marine Officer Program) which made it easier for me to grasp the concept and in turn, allowed me to boost my GPA significantly that quarter.

As classes continued, I followed the same study routine for the following quarter and received similar results.  The last quarter of my third year was a bit different though.  There was this one class that stood out and persuaded me enough to further my education in that field.  I took an elective water chemistry class, but I thought nothing of it besides just another class that I had to pass.  However, the professor who taught the class was truly passionate about the subject.  (This is where I believe it is the teacher, not the subject or field, that will stimulate your aspirations.)  He taught in a way that not only made me “open my eyes” to the current events happening at the time but also made me scared of what might become of our future.  He made me want to do something about it.

I started to actively participate in class and went to office hours on a weekly basis not just to get answers to the homework problems but to actually speak with the professor about goals and ideas for the future.  Now all of a sudden, I became that one guy in class who always had a question or something to say (not in an annoying way, but in a curious student kind of way).  Because of this particular class (more so the professor teaching the class), I decided to choose a path related towards water reclamation and preserving the environment. I was still a few months away from having to apply to graduate school since I was still in my third year of undergraduate, but this realization was the first step towards my pursuit of graduate school and knowing what major to choose from.

Discovering your interests by inspiration from others is what worked best for me in this situation.  Everyone will get lost trying to discover themselves, but I know everyone has something they are made for. They just need help from others finding it.

Stay and finish strong.