A Compressed Life
Graduate school carries all kinds of surprises. For some, the overall experience is an exciting and momentum-driv-en excursion: a time to focus intensively
on research, make new connections, and
anticipate the future. For others, it is like a
roller coaster, filled with ups and downs—
and by the way, you are totally strapped
in and sitting hundreds of feet off the
ground, so you may as well enjoy the ride.
I consider myself from this latter group.
If there was a country song based on my
time in graduate school, it would have to
include the agony and ecstasy of doing all
night low-temperature NMRs, meeting my
future husband, the satisfaction I felt in
completing my first Gaussian calculation,
growing beautiful crystals, dealing with
laboratory group dynamics, and preparing
for my oral exams. Unfortunately, it would
also have to include a very bad breakup,
struggling with cumulative exams, getting
burned and scarred in a laboratory ac-
cident, TA-ing every year and almost every
quarter, and most painfully, the untimely
deaths of both my father and my adviser.
None of these things in and of
themselves are unusual life experiences.
However, the existence of these and other
stressors occurring during a compressed
period of your life where you feel you
are expected to be 100% student, 100%
teacher, 100% researcher, and 10% person
can threaten to overwhelm.
I remember as a first-year graduate
student, when I was going through a par-
I would like to
an article by writer
Carrie Arnold focusing
on one of the most
serious topics that can
ticularly hard time, asking a senior gradu-
ate student who was just about to move on
to a career in industry if there was some
advice he could pass on to the rest of us.
Even now, some years later, his words stick
in my head. After pausing for a second
he said, “Learn to live and let live…and
breathe. Does that make sense?” It did,
and it still does.
In this issue, along with the National
Meeting Guide, an article on the art of
writing cover letters, and a Graduate
Student Organization Spotlight (quite an
impressive post by UCLA), I would like to
particularly highlight an article by writer
Carrie Arnold focusing on one of the most
serious topics that can be covered. This
article debunks myths about depression,
mental anxiety, and suicide and focuses
on what universities are doing to address
these issues for their students.
Maybe you know someone who is
overwhelmed by stress. Maybe you can
help them. I myself could not have made
it through graduate school without my
friends. Through them, I learned how to
Corrie Kuniyoshi, Ph.D., Editor