Thursday, August 30, 2007
MY FIRST FULL RESEARCH GRANT....WHHHHAAATTT!!!
I AM SO EXCITED RIGHT NOW!!!! After months of writing, researching, long hours, waiting...more waiting, and a handful of rejection letters, I received word that I was awarded a UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Research Grant!!! I feel like it's my birthday, for real! I literally did cartwheels and back handsprings in the hall, LMAO.
Receiving full academic support is like a wet dream for a doctoral student in my department. You see, my degree is known as a Dr. P.H. (Doctorate of Public Health), which is considered a 'professional' doctorate degree. The Ph.D. degree is considered an 'academic' doctorate degree. Ph.D. students are routinely offered free rides along with decent salaries to live off of. Dr. P.H. student don't get JACK SHIT in terms of FREE funding. Funding sources for us are tight as a virgin's coochie (that's for you Trent). AND GET THIS!! To add insult to injury, these fools have the AUDACITY to charge us Dr.P.H. students an EXTRA $3000 in fees for being 'professional students'!!! WTF!!!!We are responsible for the same level of coursework and research experiences yet we get the funding shaft because we are being groomed as 'professional leaders in public health' and may have more career options than 'researcher' and 'professor'. It's not like we are getting paid doctors' and lawyers' salaries when we reach the top, so I say BOOOOO HISSSSS to that rationale. But alas, it is what it is.
That is why this grant is so exciting to me. IF you are even lucky enough to receive full funding as a Dr.P.H., you are awarded only as a returning student. I got mine on the first shot! Well, I got rejected from 3 other sources but whatever...one of them came through. With this grant, my school fees and a good portion of my salary will be guaranteed for TWO YEARS. Man, it feels like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I was just about to enter into about $30,000 of ADDITIONAL DEBT before this jewel fell in my hands. Finally some validation for all this time and energy I've put into establishing a new foundation in this crazy ass world called Public Health.
Taken yesterday at my poster session. This is GROWN FOLKS BUSINESS!!!
See folks...in academia, well at least at major research universities (like UCLA), your salary is never guaranteed. For as much money these big assed name schools generate, they are CHEAP AS HELL when it comes paying folks. Actually in many instances the University do not pay professors/researchers at all...you get paid through the research grants you are awarded. That means you constantly hustle and bust your ass to identify research funding opportunities...spend months preparing these ridiculously detailed grants...have your work mercilessly reamed, slighted, and picked apart by anal-retentive review boards...finally carve a decent product...send it in...and wait by the mailbox. If you get funded, you (and your entire research team) will be able to eat, pay your bills, and continue researching. If you don't get funded, you better have more luck on another grant or you're screwed. If you get told no too many times, you may be out of a job. It's a cutthroat business, being a professional nerd.
Me with my professional angel, Dr. Antronette Yancey. Ain't she tall?
But on the flip side, when you have successfully pimped the system and get paid as a result, it feels orgasmic. Everybody wins when money comes through the door. My professor earns bragging rights and excellent reviews for future research. My research assistants will receive much-deserved raises. Our team may be able to hire a new assistant, which will make our lives less stressful. Everybody walks around more refreshed and ready to work harder.
A few of the lovely ladies I've had the pleasure of working (and acting a hot ass mess, lol) with this summer.
Not only are you ensuring your future livelihood, your are breathing life back into the research you are doing. You can continue to do what you love. You can continue to help people and change lives. It's amazing.
AHH THE JOY OF FREE MONEY. I'm gonna be acting a straight up DONKEY this weekend celebrating over this!!! But first, I gotta pull an all-nighter to finish this manuscript. Don't ya just LOVE the life of a Super Nerd!