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100 days til graduation!

I refuse to believe it. One hundred more sleeps until I wake up a college grad. I’ve already warned everyone I know because I know I will be an emotional WRECK come May – a complex combination of excitement, intense sadness, denial, relief, gratitude, pride, joy, lots of tears, and crazy celebration. I’ll skip the details of all my sappiness for now, but I did want to write today to document the beginning of my countdown of all countdowns. I’m planning on keeping track of watching that 100 inevitably get smaller and smaller by posting a photo a day that highlights something worth remembering each day. I promise this really isn’t a way to get double-taps on Instagram but more of a modern-day scrapbook of sorts. It could be documenting cross-offs from the Baylor bucket list (remember this? yeah I’ve got more to add), spontaneous adventures, more “lasts” than I’d like, and everything else in between. This little project of mine will ensure that I grab each and every day in all its entirety – the beautiful, big, hilarious, crazy, and irreplaceable gift of the 24 hours it is – and capture these moments so I can look back on them years from now. I desperately want to know that I soaked up every second of my last days at the best university on the planet with the greatest people I’ve known during the most incredible four years of my life (so far). I’d love to see some of my classmates’ memorable moments during the countdown as well!

#100days

Fearfully made [and why I’m a biology major]

With something like sixty college credit hours of science classes under my belt, I guess I’ve gained my fair share of knowledge about how the world (and everything in it) works. Every single class obviously brings its challenges (gluconeogenesis or sympathetics anyone?), but I couldn’t imagine studying anything else but the intricate and incredible functioning of living things, especially when it comes to the human body. Last semester I took an intense histology course, I’m now in microbiology, and I’m still leading sections as a TA for the upper level human anatomy lab I took last year. I’ve felt a renewed sense of awe with our God the Creator with every lecture and lab session as a science major. I will never understand how so many people make science and faith contradicting aspects of life. I could have a friendly [heated] discussion about that for days with anyone, and I don’t have any personal political or religious agendas – simply infinite wonder rooted in a scientific, finite mind. Sure there are days when I seriously question why I chose to take this narrow, long, and many times uphill road.  There are more days,  though, when the more I study the more my fascination grows. I am certain that I found my passion of what I truly love.

  • The miraculous architecture of the bones of the skull that form foramina allowing vessels and nerves to reach and leave the brain.skull
  • Microscopically perfect arrangements of microtubules to form cilia, giving cells movement and filtration.microtubule
  • The insanely consistent physiology of action potentials and nerve synapses behind every single thought and motion.action potential
  • The unbelievable characteristics and design of bone tissue that make processes like osseointegration possible – which I’ll get to witness every day in my career.implant
  • A perfectly synchronized enzyme orchestra in glycolysis to fuel literally everything our bodies are doing at this very second.gly

I am confident that dental school will bring immensely more of these moments when my brain says “WOW.”

May we never lose our wonder.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” – Psalm 139:13-16 ESV

“Life is like that, of course, twisty and surprising.”

I’m returning to the blogging world after a month of a holiday hiatus. Isn’t it funny how when I actually had more time to write over Christmas break, I don’t even write one post? Well, this is my insanely brief overview:

Naps on naps. Pinterest. Baking. Shopping. Family time in the country. Guitar. Resting in The Word. Ringing in 2015 with a night out in uptown Dallas. Crying in AT&T stadium at the final score of the Cotton Bowl (my last game as a Baylor student). Feeling 22. Deciding on dental school. Declining other schools. Committing to another school. Receiving the scholarship I’d been praying for for months. Withdrawing previous acceptance and officially committing to being a class of 2019 “Penntist.”

Let’s just say maybe why I didn’t have time to blog was because my mind was highly preoccupied with this obvious roller coaster. I quite possibly have never felt more all over the place in my life than I have in the past 45 days (it was way harder than my up until the last minute college decision). I’ve tried to update on my blog with my specific thoughts occasionally throughout this long, stressful, but exciting process simply because I want to be able to look back and see how God was leading me along the way and to have that same feeling that I have now about going to Baylor for undergrad – that the fact that I ever was torn between schools is actually funny now. So this is mainly for me to read a few years from now maybe as I’m finishing up D4 and being so incredibly grateful for God’s provision and that I made the decision that I did. If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you know Penn was my dream school where I really saw myself thriving and the stepping stone to reaching my personal and career goals in the future. It is also one of THE most expensive schools in the country. Well, crap. My mom always said I had champagne taste…

After finals were over and I had a chance to hash everything out with my mentor and then my parents when I came home, I had finally come to terms with the financial implications of going to where I had really felt led to go for so long. I was going to Penn, I was going to be in a heck of a lot of debt, but I wasn’t going to regret it.

That night I “decided” I felt so sure that it was the right decision. The following days, though, ALL I could think about was what THAT kind of debt would look like for a chunk of my life, and that I would in fact regret being an Ivy League trained doctor struggling to make everything work financially. It’s really twisted if you think about it. I set Penn to the side for awhile and really tried to imagine myself at Baylor and Houston. Before, I was so torn between the two and just never really had any peace about choosing either. I talked to several friends at both and reached a new decision that UTSD-Houston would be the best fit and so much more realistic than going to Penn without a scholarship. That week was mostly spent trying to convince myself of all the great reasons to go to Houston. It was OK to turn down Penn simply because of the price, a friend reassured me. Of course initially I was disappointed. Everything before just felt like a tease. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat angry at God. Why would I have gone to interviews and been accepted at Columbia and Penn – and felt so strongly drawn to Penn specifically – and then it all just be taken away. I was at the point where I just wished I would’ve never even applied to those schools, and it would’ve been a LOT easier decision if I didn’t get in to either. I tried to “get over” the idea of going to Penn, and every day I honestly was getting more OK with the idea of being in Houston next year. This was, after all, an incredible blessing to even be in this position of getting to choose where to go. I even took a trip down there to visit my friend and planned on looking at Houston housing options. I had lost that hope and expectancy that I felt all throughout December of the chance of still getting a scholarship to Penn.

Then things got thrown upside down that same day I was driving back to Waco from my side road trip to H-town. Earlier when I had told my family about my decision to go to Houston, I explained it as an “unless…” situation. Penn’s deadline wasn’t until the 15th of January, so obviously I was still going to just see if anything happened in that next week or so before the door was officially closed. Like I said though, I was pretty much over it and finding peace in my Houston decision. I had realized maybe a lot of me wanting to go to Penn was my pride and feeling that I “deserved” to go to my top choice after working so hard in college. I had to put away my selfishness and turn all of this back over to God and his plan for me. I was going out to dinner with my friend that night to my favorite pizza joint, and she asked me how I was feeling with the recently changed decision. I explained how I was still a little disappointed that it all came down to financial reasons. It wasn’t my plan A, but plan B is sometimes the best thing that can happen. As I’m saying this, I look at my phone, and I see that it’s the Philadelphia area code that I had been sure to memorize. Oh hi there, plan A. My first thought was they were calling to ask about my decision since I hadn’t sent in my deposit or really updated them on my situation. My other thought was that they were calling and going to offer me the lowest scholarship, still not helping enough for me to be able to change my mind. I knew that if they would’ve ever called and given me the max scholarship that I’d go in a heartbeat. If it ended up being the middle level amount, it would be the most complicated. I would have to seriously think about it and be SURE I would be making the right decision, whatever that was. So of course, guess what happened? Yep, the complicated route. All I could do that night was say WOW WOW WOW it actually happened? And laugh. Lots of laughing at God’s sense of humor and my crazy life as well as thinking how worn out everyone in my life was getting with me talking about all this back and forth nonsense.

At first I was so confused because of the timing and everything from the past couple weeks of me talking myself into Houston and JUST now beginning to get really excited about it. I read back through my prayer journal that night, though, and it was unreal how many times I specifically was yearning for financial provision if Penn was where He was leading me. Several times I also wrote things along the lines of “I know you LOVE to surprise me, so I am trusting it will all be in your perfect timing”,  and “I know you make the impossible possible.” There was also the powerful Sunday at church on trusting God with finances when I went to the front to be prayed for the week before I heard anything about acceptances. After taking the weekend to really keep praying about it and talking to my family and close friends about it who had been with me through the entire dramatic saga, I realized that there was no way that all this happened for me to turn it down and still go to Houston. This Dean’s scholarship was exactly what I had been believing for from the beginning. My creator knows the desires of my heart inside and out before I even ask. I have been so constantly reminded in all this that his dreams for me are far greater than my own. This is only the beginning of a crazy adventure of the next season: my life as a twenty-something Dr-to-be in a major Northeast city where I will be stretched academically, mentally, and spiritually. I am leaving my unbelievable community of friends here (who have been some of my biggest cheerleaders in all this), my family who has never stopped supporting me and my crazy big dreams since day one, “y’all,” Tex-Mex, and a lot more. As scary as all that is, I am beyond pumped for what’s ahead: receiving a dental/medical education like no other, an entirely new city full of ALL kinds of people that I would never have met if I stayed in Texas, learning exactly what I will be doing in my career impacting people’s lives everyday, 119 of the most interesting/fun/smartest people that I will ever know and get to call classmates, actual SEASONS praise the Lord, and meeting my new best friends (or…WHO knows, something more??) for life. University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine and all that 2015 has in store, I’m coming for ya.

All I wanted for Christmas

All I wanted for Christmas

The title quote is one from Shauna Niequist that I even posted on Facebook on New Year’s Eve as an encouragement and hope for all my friends – especially those of us in the middle of major life changes – in 2015 (before all of the crazy twists actually happened).

“Everything is interim. Everything is a path or a preparation for the next thing, and we never know what the next thing is. Life is like that, of course, twisty and surprising. But life with God is like that exponentially. We can dig in, make plans, write in stone, pretend we’re not listening, but the voice of God has a way of being heard. It seeps in like smoke or vapor even when we’ve barred the door against any last-minute changes, and it moves us to different countries and different emotional territories and different ways of living. It keeps us moving and dancing and watching, and never lets us drop down into a life set on cruise control or a life ruled by remote control. Life with God is a dancing dream, full of flashes and last-minute exits and generally all the things we’ve said we’ll never do. And with the surprises comes great hope.”

Trust me, I’m (going to be) a doctor.

I’m currently seizing every opportunity to stay distracted from studying any more tonight for my last two (cumulative and far-from-easy) finals Monday and Tuesday, and I’ve got just a few things on my mind that I really need to get in writing. Ok, more like 732 things.

Yes, there was Thanksgiving, family time, and food galore.

HOME

HOME

Of course there were ample Elijah photo shoots

Of course there were ample Elijah photo shoots

I even completed my music/photography Psalms class project with these models

I even completed my music/photography Psalms class project with these models

There were also never-ending Sic Em’s, a little thing called College Gameday, tears shed at my last Baylor football game, and a depressed, bitter, nonstop Twitter feed about finishing at #5 (but still ahead of TCew).

Best way to end my college football experience

Best way to end my college football experience

Seniors (barely survived) ran the Line in McLane Stadium for our last game ever

Seniors (barely survived) ran the Line in McLane Stadium for our last game ever

Being down on the field with all the seniors was definitely something I'll never forget

Being down on the field with all the seniors was definitely something I’ll never forget

Started from the top, and oh yeah we're still here. #BacktoBack #Big12Champs

Started from the top, and oh yeah we’re still here. #BacktoBack #Big12Champs

Johnnyswim rocked around a Waco Hall Christmas on 5th tree, and of course Abner and Amanda serenaded all of Wacotown.

Sexy people making beautiful music >>>> studying for my last management exam

Sexy people making beautiful music >>>> studying for my last management exam

Finals have once again arrived and invaded the hearts of students, dueling it out with the Christmas spirit and holiday cheer all across campus.

Senioritis is REAL

Senioritis is REAL

The news that beats ALL of that, though, is that on the early morning of December 1st, the culmination of stressful nights studying, hours of shadowing, and countless sacrifices to achieve my academic and career goals came together and Galatians 6:9 became my reality: I’M GOING TO BE A DENTIST and you can call me Dr. in a few short (or long) years! Starting at midnight and throughout the day, I received acceptance offers for a seat in the Class of 2019 at each of the five schools where I interviewed: TAMU/Baylor (Dallas), UTSD (Houston), UTHSCSA (San Antonio), Columbia (NYC), and UPenn (Philly)! I am once again overwhelmed with God’s favor in my life and am beyond grateful for every single person who has supported me as family, friends, professors, and mentors through this journey (that is just really starting).

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And no, I don’t just want to go to Penn because of their brilliantly witty name for themselves…

Being offered one of the few coveted spots out of thousands of applicants was more humbling than I could have ever imagined it would be. They all chose little me from small town East Texas to represent their school and the future of the dental profession. That once-far-off, big dream I had busted it for the last three years for had finally turned into tangible emails, phone calls, and letters.

I’m also incredibly proud of my pre-dental friends and classmates that have been on this journey with me from the beginning. Almost all of the Baylor seniors that applied this cycle got into all three Texas schools and some out of state schools too! If this was like a professional sports draft day, we all swept it first round. Of course we tossed aside our studies (for the worst last exam week of the semester) for the night and went out to toast to our new student dentist status and the fact that we actually know what we’re doing after graduation and are no longer “just biology majors” hoping all that work wasn’t for nothing. Rest assured moms and dads, (one day) we will be financially secure.

Smiling's our favorite :)

Smiling’s our favorite :)

Cheers! Best group of future tooth docs

Cheers! Best group of future tooth docs

Speaking of finances, if you read my last post you know Penn Dental was my top choice, and I was desperately hoping to receive a substantial scholarship that would make my decision easy. Well, when they called, I was sadly not informed of that. This is not to say that all have been awarded necessarily, and if students that did receive one decline Penn’s offer due to committing to another school or receiving a full-ride military scholarship, those are immediately recycled to be given to other qualified (ahem, PICK ME) students. My heart did sink when I wasn’t one of those lucky first round award recipients. Here I am in this incredible and EXTREMELY fortunate situation of having to pick my school instead of praying for months that ONE picks me. However, now my decision is anything but easy. I have a full 30 days from when I heard for Texas schools (Houston or Baylor, I did go ahead and decline SA) and about 45 days for Penn until I have to inform the school (aka send a deposit check) to secure my golden ticket. That makes things a lot more complicated than I would have hoped due to the timing of things and not wanting to have to put down two deposits potentially to buy more time. My heart is really still set on Penn and I am believing for breakthrough. I also know that complete surrender of my dreams right now is all I can do. I’m praying that I would feel and hear God’s guidance in a fresh and powerful way in the coming days. I know He is the one that has brought me this far and opened door after door for me to walk in this calling on my life to serve people with joy and impact their lives in a very real way.

No matter what happens, this time next year I will be finishing up my first semester as a dental student, and I’m all smiles because of that.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will ACT.” – Psalm 37:4-5

Oh Hey There Winter

Over the past couple of weeks, and especially the last few days, the unpredictable Texas “winter” has definitely made its presence known. When the temperature drops, the [typical college girl] pumpkin cravings rise. I’ve whipped up these pumpkin protein pancakes topped with almond butter (similar to these but pumpkin substituted for the banana) one class-skipping morning and another batch of health-ified pumpkin dark chocolate muffins, perfect to freeze for a week of breakfasts or snacks on-the-go.

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Just so you know, this is a downright delightful combo for a late-night study snack.

Something about the colder weather makes me really cherish my cozy morning quiet time (still in my pjs and fuzzy socks) of reading, worship music, coffee (2 cups if I’m lucky), and filling up physically and spiritually before the noise of the day.

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Slow cozy mornings are my favorite

Changing seasons also means the end of the semester is close and registration time – my LAST time in college at that. Weird. Crazy. Scary. Exciting. Sad. Thrilled. Busy as ever.

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Not the easiest breeze of a senior year they say you’ll have your last semester…

Last weekend I enjoyed a beautiful dinner (my homemade broccoli cheese, her homemade bread, and toasted salami asiago sammies for dunking) and a concert of my absolute favorite on campus a cappella group, VirtuOso. You can’t beat a night of good-for-the-soul food, friends, and ridiculous music.

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Exactly my definition of weekend

This past week I successfully managed to pull off my histology lab case study presentation, an ameloblastoma. Finally I get to talk about things like teeth development and abnormal oral histology, and considering I’m actually going to school forever to focus on this tiny region of the body, that makes studying it enjoyable.

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50 Shades of Grey aka dental radiology

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Yeah, that’s definitely not normal

Despite the crazy low temps for this time of year, Baylor ASDA ladies suited up ready for our last flag football game of the season and ended with another win (and yes, a forfeit by the other team does in fact still count as a W in my book). I’m not sure when I’ll get another chance to play quarterback and channel my inner Bryce Petty, but I’m hoping dental school intramurals/olympics?

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Let’s at least celebrate no broken fingers needing surgery this year!

Friday night we celebrated my lovely roommate Chelsea’s 22nd birthday a couple days early. I was pretty proud of my gift-giving this year. I knew she loved author/blogger Donald Miller, so I got her his best-selling book Blue Like Jazz. She’s also a big fan of theologian Henri Nouwen, so I found an anthology of sorts drawing from his major works. I topped it off with a bottle of her favorite Cabernet brand, and we had a fun dinner out with the girls – complete with watching Bridesmaids, red wine, and red velvet cake balls back at The Roost (our self-titled apartment) afterwards.

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Her appropriate Insta quote of our favorite movie: “This is such a stone-cold pack of weirdos and I am so proud!”

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We do glamour photo shoots so well

While shopping for her gifts at Barnes and Noble, I snagged this classic illustrated volume beauty on sale for a whopping $7.98! This was THE medical/anatomy teaching text for med students starting in the mid-1800s, and I was thoroughly geeking out about owning this beautiful piece of art and medical history. This Gray came way before Meredith and McDreamy.

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It’s so beautiful and will have a place on my future doctor bookshelf forever.

A SHORT TWO WEEKS UNTIL I MIGHT FIND OUT WHAT MY LIFE WILL LOOK LIKE FOR THE NEXT 4 YEARS. What are my thoughts since my last post about the overwhelming world of dental school decisions? Basically, I am praying HARD for a Dean’s scholarship to Penn, and if I receive one that lovely December 1st day, I could not turn it down. There, I said it. Penn Dental is now my “#1,” folks. If God closes that door, then I’d be more than happy to attend Baylor College of Dentistry (only a few points ahead of UTSD Houston at the moment).

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All you need is…[a scholarship]

 One last tidbit of blog-worthy news. Tomorrow, my friends, I will yet again get to witness a night of pure musicianship with my bros Switchfoot. It’s crazy thinking that about this time last year, I saw them at Baylor and wrote about Jon reading my tweet on stage. Call me lame, but I’m preparing myself for if I cry tomorrow night. Not only because their music recalls to mind so many vivid memories throughout my entire life, but mix that with the ball of emotions that is college senior year and it’s bound to happen. Oh, and just because Baylor and Waco are awesome and bring phenomenal music to this city, Gungor is also coming along to play part of the show. Talk about a REAL music lover’s paradise…

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Forever fan-girling

Well that’s it for my catchup from lack of blogging the past two weeks. I’ve got to return to physics, my perfect Mocha, and a cozy night at Dichotomy.

The soundtrack to my college studies

If you know me at all, you know music is a huge part of my life that I could never go without. I’ve written about life-changing concerts, my family’s strong musical roots, my love for singing, and picking acoustic guitar back up this summer. Music is often how I connect with others (if I find out we have common tastes, I can talk to you for hours with unlimited suggestions to check out), deal with certain emotions/situations,  and “when words fail, music speaks.” Ever since the gloriousness that is Spotify came around, discovering new music and finding incredible playlists is basically how I survive the little thing called studying. My friends and I are constantly sharing the latest up and coming band with each other. Two concerts I’ve been to this year (and one next month) have been for artists I just happened upon on Spotify or through word of mouth, listen to on repeat for weeks, see their tour dates, and spontaneously plan a trip to see them. Whether I’m up to my eyeballs with histology notes, cranking out a five or ten page religion paper the night before it’s due (which definitely happened last week for the first time in my college career), or trying to stay awake studying for my mundane business class exams, the music I listen to when I study has played a crucial role in my life as a college student.

All credit for my GPA goes to coffee, colored pens, Spotify, and comfy flannel

All credit for my GPA goes to coffee, colored pens, Spotify, and comfy flannel

If I leave for Common Grounds, Dichotomy, Lula Jane’s, the library, or BSB without headphones and a fully charged computer, studying is a lost cause. I literally can’t study in silence. The loud chatter of sorority girls or stressed freshman isn’t exactly music to my ears, either. Side note to Mom and Dad, Beats or Bose for Christmas??? After all, I would use them all throughout the dental school years.

I’ve recently been hooked on Spotify’s “Indie Folk for Focus” instrumental playlist, but I actually just made a new one called “Study Sounds” tonight. It’s currently sitting at about 29 hours of nonstop songs: more than enough to fuel a full couple of nights hitting the books (or Powerpoint printouts and colored pens – I haven’t cracked open a textbook since I don’t know when). What’s on this A+ mix?

Procrastinated book reviews for Psalms and Wisdom Lit just don't happen without some serious study tunes

Procrastinated book reviews for Psalms and Wisdom Lit just don’t happen without some serious study tunes

Andrew Belle, Colony House, Johnnyswim, Ivan & Alyosha, John Mark McMillan, The Head and the Heart, Sarah Jarosz, Nickel Creek, Jon Foreman, Fiction Family, The Oh Hello’s, Knox Hamilton, Fleet Foxes, Penny and Sparrow, Jon McLaughlin, Ben Rector, Vampire Weekend, Jillian Edwards, Andy Davis

If any of your study playlists or iTunes in general are in a rut, I hope you’ll check some of these artists out. They won’t disappoint.

In other news, tomorrow marks 5 weeks until the first round of acceptances! It’s also when my motivation for this last year’s classes/GPA will probably take yet another hit for the worse. My pre-dent friends and I are already anticipating the big night out [*hopefully*] celebrating years of blood, sweat, and tears to get that coveted letter or phone call. For now I guess I’ve got to get back to those studies for yet another multiple test week…

“So what’s your #1?” and why it’s OK I don’t have an answer

People are still so shocked when they hear me simply say, “I don’t have one” after they ask me that question about my fast -approaching decision of where I really want to go for school next fall. I understand they are doing the polite thing by being interested in my future and what I’ve been working towards all of my college career. I’m still tired of having to explain how I don’t have a first preference or that I really do not know where I want to go RIGHT NOW. If you asked me where I want to live in ten years or who I want to marry, would you also expect a well articulated detailed answer with confidence? It’s impossible. I only know who holds the future, and that is enough.

I realize this is an incredibly good “problem” to have, and I am not at all trying to sound like I’m stressed out about it. At the same time, having so many options is not always the best for someone as indecisive (when it comes to major life decisions aka college, major, etc) as me. I’ve always been one to heavily weigh each pro and con of pretty much everything. I didn’t commit to a university until May of my senior year of high school when I ultimately chose to go where everyone in my life knew I probably would. I guess I relish the drama and like to keep people guessing.

Since I wrote about my first UTHSC – San Antonio interview on here, I’ve traveled close to home (Dallas and Houston) and to an all together new world of the Northeast (Philly and NYC) to a total of four other schools: Texas A&M/Baylor College of Dentistry, UT School of Dentistry – Houston, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, and Columbia University School of Dental Medicine. Wow.

“Take a step of faith when God gives you a vision because you trust that the One who gave you the vision is going to make provision. And for the record, if the vision is from God, it will most definitely be beyond your means.”

It was such a season of waiting and anticipation those few months of constantly checking my inbox or SDN notifications (yep I’m one of those nerds), and I couldn’t help but jump up and down or do my happy dance with each new invitation. I am so grateful that God opened all these doors for me, and I can’t help but praise and give him the glory throughout all of this. Just to be offered interviews at those schools was a huge dose of affirmation that all of my years of hard work and passionate commitment to my future vocation were worth it and that I truly am walking in God’s calling on my life. If you would have asked me in my little small town Atlanta, TX high school (when I did start considering a medical career – first medical school, later dental) if I saw myself even going to interview at an Ivy League grad school, I probably wouldn’t have even known which schools you were talking about. Now all of these big scary decisions are in front of me that lead to four (I can pretty much rule out San Antonio at this point personally for various reasons even though it is an excellent school!) very tangible and realistic lives I could have for the next four years or even more depending on residency possibilities.

“Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God.”

Everyone that I’ve talked to that’s already in school somewhere seems to have the same kind of answer when I ask how they ended up choosing that school (if they had that wonderful problem that I’m hoping to have which is multiple acceptances). They all say something along the lines of just having a certain feeling at the end of their interview day that it was somewhere they could thrive, be surrounded by supportive classmates and faculty, find their specific niche through opportunities that the school offers, and ultimately a place to call home for the next season of life (we’re talking most of the 20s.) Well, I felt that at every school. Seriously.

My roommates, friends, and family like to guess which school I really will probably end up at, but I promise them I don’t know any more than they do. Most people don’t understand how complicated this decision is and that it’s based on so much more than just, “Where do you want to go?” How about we talk location, COST, student body, research, specialty exposure, honors programs, grading/testing style, ranked vs not ranked…the comparisons could go on forever.

“Finally, I learned that we shouldn’t seek answers as much as we should seek God. We get overanxious. We try to microwave our own answers instead of trusting God’s timing. But here’s an important reminder: If you seek answers you won’t find them, but if you seek God, the answers will find you. There comes a point after you have prayed through that you need to let go and let God. How? By resisting the temptation to manufacture your own answer to your own prayer.”

First of all, the general consensus of these interview days are that they are…fun! I don’t know why I was so nervous about this part of the application process. I have genuinely loved each conversation I’ve had with current students, my faculty interviewers -and not to sound too confident – but I honestly think all of them liked me too (we’ll see just how much come December 1st, right?). Another cool part of these visits is meeting the other students there interviewing with me that day. We all instantly click and have great conversations throughout the day about our colleges, other interviews, our diverse backgrounds, etc. These same folks that all laugh when I say “Y’all” (or actually know where Baylor is and that our football team is pretty cool as of late) could in fact end up being my classmates and life-long friends or colleagues. Weird. Also extremely cool to think about. 

If we were to play a game where I just say the first words that come to my mind when I think of that school/city (or if you had a peek of my extensive pro/con comparison chart of each school), it’d look a little something like this:

baylor picTAMU/BCD: Family, happy, reputation, lab work, downtown Dallas, Texans, friends, familiar, busy (lotttttts of tests/quizzes every week), proximity to Waco/Austin/home, churches, supportive, clinical competency, cheapest, numerical grading, awesome faculty, people like me (but more diverse than Houston), tons of Baylor alumni

houston picUTSD: brand new, fun, laid-back, cool new city, hot and humid, best facilities, super friendly faculty, TX Medical Center (best/biggest in the world), great food/bars, art/culture, cousins live there, churches, integrated curriculum, numerical grading, research collaboration, Texans, former frat/srat vibe (I really don’t mean that in a bad way – just that they are all very social/outgoing, have fun)

penn picpenn pic other 1penn pic otherPENN: historic, super cool city vibe, diverse/global vision, ambitious, individualized, extensive honors programs, in clinic from day 1 (as assistants), well-rounded curriculum (general/clinical v specialties), rigorous, reputation, externships, collaborative/ALL schools on one campus, insane specialty rate (like 13 got into OS of 14 that applied, same for all specialties), lots of research, graded/rank top 10, Yesle (D3 blogger friend), supportive, tight-knit, cutting edge, beautiful weather and actual seasons, far from home, scary amount of dollar signs, Dean’s scholarship

columbia picnyc picnyc other picCOLUMBIA: NYC duh, medical education (with med students/med classes first 1.5 years), pioneering research, pass/fail/honors (WOW tempting), most diverse, incredibly driven, mentorship, family, networking, reputation, they breed specialists, strong OS prep (insane high scores on Step 1), work hard/play hard, more scary dollar signs, zero competitiveness, less preclinic/clinic, externships, highest cost of living, John (D2 Baylor alum), foodie central

All that to say…that’s my [lack of an] answer. I may or may not have other thoughts deep down and visions of my future that point in one direction or another, but for now I’m staying open-minded to anything that could happen. I’m tuning in to God’s voice and praying circles around this. Several people have told me at this point there is no such thing as a wrong decision. I fully believe that, and I remind myself daily that I will get clarity in God’s timing. More than anything, on my heart is the weight of the financial stress that this decision entails. Recently I’ve shifted towards asking for bigger than ever faith and trust that God is the ULTIMATE provider. Eventually we have to realize that we can plan like it depends on us, but we’ve got to pray like it depends on God. 

The future is exciting, my friends.

“While we’re busy planning, sometimes God is chuckling. And if our plans are way off, that contagious chuckle probably makes its way through angelic ranks like a laugh track. It’s not a vindictive chuckle, as if God relishes our failure. I just think God is sometimes amazed at how small our plans are. He allows our small plans to fail so that His big dream for us can prevail. So keep planning like it depends on you, but make sure you pray like it depends on God. Prayer is the alpha and omega of planning. Don’t just brainstorm, praystorm.”

– All quotes from The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson -

September, Sic ‘Ems, and Spontaneity

I can’t believe how long I’ve made it without writing. I promise I really hate having such a long hiatus. Senior year has been off and ROLLING so fast, and I’ve just been so preoccupied with things like spontaneous concerts, watching record-breaking comeback football games (OMG SICEM BAYLOR BEARS – yes, I rushed the field so I’m sure you saw me on every sports channel and highlight reel), and Northeast/Ivy League adventures of dental school interviews. I will be writing soon with an update on my recent thoughts about it all and a look inside what these interviews are really like; long story short - I LIKE EVERY SCHOOL and am praying harder than ever before.

For a quick side note, I’m almost finished reading The Circle Maker, a book that will rock your prayer life and challenge you to pray hard, specific prayers circling your dreams that God has given you until a miracle comes through. Can you say financial provision and peace regarding overwhelming tuition costs and loan amounts?

I am resolving to be better about posting at least once a week with more specific topics because I find that when I go as long as a month without writing, I don’t even know where to begin.

Senior year is flying by way too quickly. Strong denial still persists about this whole graduation thing.

Baylor football is gaining more respect after each week’s display of what we’re made of, and we really love points and winning here in Wacotown. In other news, I’m still obsessed with Bryce Petty. Last night was INSANE.

petty

Histology is picking up pace, and after our first round of quizzes and an exam I’m completely embracing the mindset that even if I don’t end with an A, I’m learning endless information that will help me survive D1 year. We have big case study projects in lab coming up, and I chose an oral/dentistry specific case despite my prof’s warning that they’d require the most outside research and work to understand this new language of oral histology. I’ll take the challenge, though, because what a rare and refreshing thought that I actually get to study things applicable to my career.

Physics is still physics, management is just another business minor class that I don’t find incredibly great, but I do enjoy my Psalms and Wisdom Lit class and getting to know people better in our small class.

My new LifeGroup has been extremely welcoming, fun, passionate, and I already feel knit together with this new spiritual community.

My intramural volleyball team, the Serve-ivors made it to the second round of playoffs before losing a hard-fought game. We showed those sorority teams they aren’t the only ones who can play.

vball

Intramural flag football with ASDA (the pre-dental org I’m involved in) started up last week, and guess who the starting QB is? My pre-dent roommate and I made a pretty sweet team with several long completions last week, and my other roommate is joining us this week as an honorary member. We future dentists can be pretty sporty and had a marina social on Thursday, complete with sand volleyball and stand-up paddle-boarding on the Brazos. I’m loving the bigger membership this year and getting to know all the new freshman and sophomores. It’s really fun finally being the senior getting to share my words of wisdom and advice about what it really takes to get into dental school like my upperclassmen did for me. I’m actually taking on a role as somewhat of an “Academic Chair/Mentor” this year, and I’ll coordinate a few events or presentations on the real academic requirements, course recommendations, study habits, DAT advice, and just be a resource for all of the underclassmen applying in a few years. It’s hard to believe that in just a year’s time, I’ll be one of the dental students coming back to Baylor to share what life in dental school is really like to current ASDA members.

I could keep writing for hours just on the last month, but I’m headed to work anatomy open lab for my students’ upcoming practical this week. By the way, I’m loving my new job, getting to know everyone, and reviewing gross anatomy along the way. Winning all around.

Overall, I’ve been worlds more spontaneous this semester, and I don’t regret any of it. To be honest, studying has been put on the back burner, and soaking up every last second of my final year here has been totally worth it.

“Nothing says #collegelife like going to the best football game this week (year?) and being in downtown Dallas 2 hours later for a concert.” – @jessieprice11 on Twitter

for the love of Thursdays

After jam-packed Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays (class, labs, teaching lab or cycling class keep me busy all hours of the day plus various evening commitments, meetings, intramurals), Thursdays have become sacred this semester. There is just something about the promise of waking up on Thursday mornings knowing that after one more sleep the weekend will have arrived and life as a college student will manage to slow down for a day or two.

This isn’t to say that I only live for the weekends (although it’s hard not to) or don’t enjoy my time in class or working. I am in fact a self-proclaimed nerd and learning-lover who was itching for class to start back up again during the dog days of summer. I also am absolutely loving my new job as a human anatomy lab TA. Not only do I get to use my passion and aptitude for learning the intricacies of the human body, but I’m becoming friends with my “students” who are mostly fellow senior biology majors applying to medical, dental, PA, PT, etc. schools just like me. I proudly already know all fifty of their names and can’t wait to begin dissections next week with them. All that being said, I still long for at least one day alarm-free and knowing that I’ll have a few more hours to devote to things I enjoy outside of school once the end of the week arrives and a little less time to things like studying for my first physics test (yep, third week of school and already took one yesterday).

After discussing and interpreting a few lament Psalms in my morning religion class and quickly working through a physics lab I semi-understood, I was finished for the day around 1 pm.

*Side note – before turning in my first lab report for physics, I was checking my calculations and realized me AND my fellow upperclassman lab partner both found slope of our drawn graph backwards (we did change in x on top instead of y). I had to change all the rest of my answers and analysis and immediately texted my partner that we apparently need to go back to seventh grade algebra. I promise we’re smart. We really are.*

I enjoyed a leisurely lunch (Thursdays are the only day I have time to not scarf a packed wrap or some fruit and nuts in between classes) and did force myself to stay at the science building for just another hour to get a start on some histology notes (this weekend is solely devoted to catching up in that class aka opening my book maybe?) before riding my bike back home.

Here are the real reasons Thursdays are so darn lovely. Today I got home mid afternoon and headed straight to my cozy bedroom, got under the sheets, and didn’t even bother to get my phone from my backpack to set an alarm. I woke up a perfect thirty minutes later, grabbed my book Delancey to hopefully finish (about a young couple opening a pizza restaurant in Seattle that I started reading over the summer just because), and curled up on the couch with the afternoon sun streaming through the window behind me.

Thursday nights are now Lifegroup nights, and that simply means meeting with a fun, intentional, passionate group of college students to be in community, worship, challenge and pray for each other. I had spontaneously told Jenna earlier that we needed to do a girls night of bruschetta and wine, because is there anything better? She quickly agreed, so after Lifegroup I headed to her place and threw together two varieties on golden and crusty roasted garlic bread: classic tomato basil and honey goat cheese/balsamic arugula/prosciutto. Our other friends came over and I insisted I make another batch. We sipped Pinot Grigio, talked, and laughed about everything with Spotify playing Michael Buble in the background. Jenna asked why was I so “crafty/arsty/sophisticated,” and as I plated and topped with the final curls of prosciutto, shavings of grano padano, and last drizzles of EVOO, said,”That is so Shauna!” For those of you that don’t know, I (along with Jenna, Chelsea, my sister and mom) am totally in love with Shauna Niequist’s books, insist to everyone I know that they must read them, and claim that the reason I relate so much is because she is literally me in about twenty years. Go look her up or check out my posts on here about her books that spoke so deeply to me. Long story short, she loves God, she loves people, and she loves eating food with those people, so basically she gets me. 10460322_772389946145578_6775106868803851349_n

As a senior whose GPA is solely down to a pride issue and will not have any implications of my future (i.e. dental school acceptances come December hopefully) now that I’m done with the application process, I have completely embraced these nights when other things matter more than studying: things like going to my favorite coffee shop to read for leisure, time spent with an uplifting community, cooking and eating with those I love, blogging, delaying sleep for an overdue Pinterest binge, and simply saying yes to spiritual and physical rest so I can do it all again next week.

16th grade and I’m still a nerd

yes, we picked out our outfits the night before the first day

yes, we picked out our outfits the night before the first day

It’s official. Now that I have made it to the end of the first week of my last year at Baylor University (cue “Time of Your Life”), I guess I can’t deny it anymore. I’m nowhere near back in the grind of full schedules, classes, and studying, but I guess that’s me already embracing the senior mentality. Heck, I even missed my first day of Tues/Thurs class and lab this week for my Houston interview (dental school/interview update post soon – hint: it involves a purchased plane ticket headed north!). As much as I enjoyed my long summer break free of studying anything besides books for leisure and acoustic guitar, I’m so excited for the new semester. Even after all these years of school (and let’s not do the math on how much more I have ahead of me), I still love brand new notebooks, pens, and pencils. Here’s a quick look into my classes this semester:

funny faces, brought to you by appendix tissue

funny faces, brought to you by appendix tissue

Histology – For any non-biologists out there, that would be the microscopic study of tissues. Sounds less than riveting, but I’d like to argue on behalf of the class and professor that it will in fact be really interesting (in other words extremely difficult but rewarding per usual of my favorite science classes). The professor is a recently retired pathologist, and with an M.D. and PhD., clearly he’s brilliant (or insane for that much schooling?). One of his favorite topics to discuss is his many former students now in med/dental/etc school texting him while they’re in histo lecture saying how bored they are since he prepared them immensely. Another class to suffer through now to have life be a tad bit easier later? I’ll take it.

Physics – Yes, you read that right. I put this “freshman-level” class off until now simply because it is not on the DAT and is not a prereq for any other classes for my major. Eight hours are required in my degree and for dental school prerequisites, though, so here I am working my way through online homework problems about trains passing each other. Joy. My prof at least is the sweetest and nerdiest Colorado native that seems to genuinely want to help us conquer the beast that is physics, and I know a few fellow pre-dent friends with senioritis in my class.

Psalms and Wisdom Literature – Once again, I get to study the Bible for college credit. As much of a challenge it always is and oftentimes outside of my academic comfort zone, I still love that I made the choice to do a religion minor at one of the top Christian universities. My professor is a jolly old man that reminds me of Santa Claus, and he pretty much already knows all the names in our small class made of a mix of religion majors, a few Chi-O’s, and a large handful of people that go to my church (if you go to Baylor you will understand this is comically predictable). I can’t wait to see what all I’ll learn this semester about one of my favorite sections of the Bible.

Organizational Behavior – this is the intro class in the Management department required for my business administration minor. I didn’t exactly go into it excited about another class with a lot of material not entirely relevant to my future career as a private practice dentist. I guess some ideas will be applicable to organizing my staff and understanding how people work together, though. The professor is a bit bitter towards higher education and claims to have hated every minute he was in school. He said he became a professor to teach students what actually matters that he was never taught; things like your GPA doesn’t matter, work you do at your job doesn’t matter, only using the corporation’s agenda to fulfill you own agenda. See why I already tune him out often? I’m not complaining about his non-existent attendance policy and saving us a chunk by not having to buy the textbook, though.

b-e-a-utiful and ready for football on the Brazos

b-e-a-utiful and ready for football on the Brazos

The first week was also filled with reunions with old friends literally all day long in the science building, leading my first couple of sections as an anatomy lab assistant (loving it already), the first pumped up college worship service of the year at my church, taking in the sights of our brand new football stadium at Traditions Rally, and some Friday night pizza and drinks topped off with a hilarious round of Balderdash with friends.

Cheers! To senior year.