Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Jorge Cham's talk brings laughs and a meaningful message

Beatriz E. Rios - Grad Student, Southern Methodist University

What brought together so many different people from so many different parts of the world on a Monday night at an ACS national meeting? No, not SciMix. Rather, it was the same miserable experience that unites graduate students from all walks of life, bridging cultural gaps and language barriers. It’s not that we hate what we do, but Jorge Cham (creator of PhD Comics) has a brilliant perspective on the seemingly never-ending struggle that is the Ph.D. process.

Jorge’s comics have united graduate students from around the globe and across fields, giving us all a break from our daily monotony, a brief moment (or maybe a few hours) to read Piled Higher and Deeper. The lecture hall filled with hundreds of graduate students, postdocs, and faculty members eager to hear him speak.

His talk was mostly lighthearted and funny, but it had a deeply important message. Take some time to procrastinate; take some time for yourself. Putting work aside for a moment to keep your sanity and happiness does not make you lazy or a bad person. This message really hit home when he highlighted the statistics about graduate students who are depressed and have attempted suicide. After the lecture, I was lucky enough to spend some time with Jorge and help with his book-signing.

There were so many people in line anxious to buy his books and get his autograph that we ran out. But no matter how long the line, Jorge happily took time to chat with everyone, hear their brief stories, and pose for pictures. We can all learn a valuable lesson from Jorge. Only you know how to make yourself happy. And perhaps we should all take the time to make sure that we are, indeed, happy.

Beatriz E. Rios is a 4th-year graduate student at Southern Methodist University where her research focuses on phosphorus-based calix[5]arene ligands and their transition metal complexes.

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