Reflected Glory

January 25, 2008


Speaking of college, which David Rochester recently did in his blog, saying something such as “I hated it. I hated it. I hated it.”

I would say that each person should be regarded as an individual, and should so regard him or her self, and not try to fit himself or herself into a Procrustean bed.

David attended a college in Ohio named Oberlin and had a miserable time. My daughter attended Oberlin and had an OK time. Not horrible. Not wonderful. But fairly good.

These experience only tells us that my daughter and David are different people with different needs and capabilities. For example, one person might like a certain food. Another person might dislike that food intensely. A third person might throw up or have some other dangerous reaction to that food. This only tells us something about each person’s reaction to that food. It does not tell us anything in general about that food except to be careful with it and not feel that you have to like it or eat it.

My daughter had worked on a research farm in the Midwest. (This web site describes the general problem of the American chestnut tree, though not anything specific to do with my daughter or the work she did.)

My daughter dreamed of saving the American chestnut tree. She enrolled in graduate school to study horticulture, specializing in nut trees. (I made jokes about studying nuts running in our family, which my daughter took in good humor.)

After she began her studies at Cornell, she said to herself, “I have made a terrible mistake.” Although she completed her Masters degree (being very conscientious), she left graduate school without going on to get her doctorate as she had originally planned.

She and her partner moved to Seattle. My daughter found she was not able to get a job in medical research (an area where she some work experience). She ended up getting a temporary job at a financial institution which turned into a permanent job. Random Granddaughter was born. My daughter delighted in being a co-Mom. (Because of a childhood illness, she can’t bear a child herself.)

She became weary of her job. Eventually she considered going back to graduate school. She worked with a career counselor to select a course of study. She eventually decided on medical statistics. She applied for the University of Washington. She was rejected. They told her that her background in math was not strong enough because she was competing with people with stronger math backgrounds. They told her that if she took more math classes, they would consider her again, though there was no promise or guarantee of acceptance on her reapplication.

My daughter took two years of calculus through distance learning. Although I had passed a year of calculus when I was in community college (after initially flunking out of Cal Berkeley, if I tried to solve a differential equation now, my brain would melt and leak out of my ears and make an ugly mess. I was very impressed as my daughter plugged her way through two years of calculus.

She applied again. A couple of days ago my daughter received an email that in part said,

“The Admission’s Committee of the Department of Biostatistics reviewed your application at our meeting yesterday. I am thrilled to be able to invite you to join our graduate program next year as a MS student. This offer of admission includes full financial support for your studies. This support package is a 12 month appointment that will be renewed annually provided you maintain satisfactory progress in the program. This support may be in the form of a research assistantship or teaching assistantship, and is sufficient to cover tuition, books and living expenses for your graduate studies. Specific details regarding the support will be sent in the future in a letter from our Graduate Program Director…”

My conclusion, with no additional evidence, is that the Admissions Committee said to each other This is a very serious student. Accept her!

We’ll see if this time the dream and reality match better. One never knows. One plugs ahead. At least my daughter does, while her father basks in reflected glory.

6 Responses to “Reflected Glory”

  1. Pete Says:

    Mr R – I have been reading your blog for several years and have heard the story of her initail rejection, and what a blue day that was for the family. Please give her my congradulations, and you both should be proud.
    I KNEW there was a reason I keep reading stuff…

  2. modestypress Says:

    My wife and I are very proud of our daughter. We don’t quite know how the genetics work that she is much smarter than either of her parents. I’m not quite sure where the all the steadfastness and steady determination comes from also, but at least some of that clearly comes from her Mom.

    I’ll think of something useful to contribute one of these days.

    Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it.

  3. Vicky Says:

    Congrats to your daughter! I, too, was excited to read the good news!

    I always thought I’d like kitchen cupboards made out of chestnut – I wish someone could save the trees! 😦

  4. modestypress Says:


    I don’t say the word “chestnut” around my daughter any more. It’s a sensitive subject. 😦

  5. I too remember the disappointment of her initial rejection. This is such wonderful news — persistence is indeed a virtue.

  6. pandemonic Says:

    This is so cool! It’s like hitting the lottery! Congratulations to you and your daughter, your daughter’s partner and Random Granddaughter.

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