Posted by: DSprockett | April 15, 2013

April 15th is Grad School Decision Day. Where did I end up?

According to a 2009 Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees and Assistants by The Council of Graduate Schools:

Acceptance of an offer of financial support *(such as a graduate scholarship, fellowship, traineeship, or assistantship) for the next academic year by a prospective or enrolled graduate student completes an agreement that both student and graduate school expect to honor. In that context, the conditions affecting such offers and their acceptance must be defined carefully and understood by all parties.

Students are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support prior to April 15; earlier deadlines for acceptance of such offers violate the intent of this Resolution.

It goes on, but essentially it constitutes an agreement between nearly every graduate school in the country making April 15th the earliest deadline for accepting/rejecting graduate school offers. Today is that day.

So where did I end up?

I got great offers from several fantastic graduate programs, but I have to say, after visiting them all in February,  one really stood out above the rest.

That is why I’ll be headed to Palo Alto, California this fall, to begin my PhD in Microbiology & Immunology at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The mission of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology is to conduct the best possible research and provide the most rigorous and inspiring training in the areas of microbiology, immunology, host-pathogen interaction and related fields. Through such activities, our goal is to improve human and animal health as well as to improve our ability to be responsible stewards of a fragile earth.

I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am to be headed to Stanford, and to be working on some of the most fascinating problems in the field, and –in my opinion– all of science!

One point that really impressed me about the M&I program wasn’t just how interesting everyone was, but how interested they were.  Everyone, from the grad students to the faculty and administrators, spoke to me with an air of enthusiasm and  positivity that you just don’t see too many places.

At one point, during a poster session that included a well-stocked open bar, I was chatting with some current grad students about the very primal sense of satisfaction I sometimes get when I see an elegant mathematical proof, or a particularly well-designed experiment.  I began my anecdote, “I know this sounds really nerdy, but…”

“No,” I was quickly interrupted. “This is Stanford. You don’t have to say that here.”

I immediately felt more at home than I’ve felt in a very long time. I think the next 5 or so years of my life are going to be very, very good.


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