September 29, 2006


It’s incredible to me how songs and surroundings can match what I’m going through in life so seamlessly. I have had The Beatle’s song “Help!” for example, stuck in my mind all day and it has matched my current feelings verse by verse: my need for help from special people, my changing of feelings and perspective as I grow older, my limits of independence and need for interdependence, my appreciation for the people around me, and my home to get my feel back on solid ground. Actually, the songs explains it even better than that:

I need somebody, not just anybody, you know need someone. When I was younger, so much younger than today, I never needed anybody's help in any way. But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured, Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors. And now my life has changed in oh so many ways, my independence seems to vanish in the haze. But every now and then I feel so insecure, I know that I just need you like I've never done before. Help me if you can, I'm feeling down and I do appreciate you being round. Help me, get my feet back on the ground, won't you please, please help me, help me, help me, oh...

Growing older is hard, but sometimes asking for help is all we really need to do to get it. I’m glad I’ve been able to do that and I really appreciate the help I’ve been able to get in return.

September 24, 2006


When I read over Carl Sagan’s and Mohandas Gandhi’s quotes again, they remind me of the simpler way I looked at the world two years ago. The world was a speck of sand in the universe and humanity was a species that I could help guide and advance. Simple problems needed simple solutions and I stood poised to bring them. I started the Haunted Trail, boosted Circle K to new heights and made a stand for my first time as an individual with a private room of reflection and a public life of service. I watched the entirety of Gandhi and Cosmos and I had a grasp on the world.

As things change, as we get older and the we take on a new perspective on the world, it can be inviting to look back and want an older view. A simpler view was a happier view in a lot of ways, but it couldn’t answer all of my questions. It didn’t know the range of experiences that I have had now and maybe most of all, it didn’t know pain or suffering.

When we grow, we choose how we react to the world around us. Whether we think the world is cold, people are kind, or things will be good or bad, we are likely to be correct. It’s hard to have things work out differently than we would have expected them to, but that is how things work. “The world is change;” as said Marcus Aurelius, “this life, opinion.”

September 22, 2006


I was able to enjoy one of my favorite films tonight with two great individuals. As we all sat there watching it, each seeming to hold a unique position on the spectrum of belief, I thought to myself about what has been on my mind for the last four weeks. Faith and science, belief and reason, religion and naturalism. Where does a scientific person go to answer questions of faith, of belief without evidence? Where does a spiritual person go to answer questions of reason, of a universe explained by natural law? Somehow, to me, it is almost an ironic question. Although I have not looked at it this way for long I think a possible appropriate view is…look to each other.

It’s not a weakness in a scientific person, I believe, to look for meaning through person experience. I also don’t think it’s a weakness in a spiritual person to look for answers outside belief and faith. Science has done a wonderful job advancing humanity through discoveries, inventions, technologies and measured, reasonable methods. Spirituality, I must also agree, has done the same through its discoveries of human potential, inventions of values and principles, psychological developments and a humble, faithful pursuit of the truth. Now science is not always objective and spirituality is not always humble, science has created nuclear bombs and spirituality has morally justified their use, but all in all I think they stand together in a position to help one another as easily as they can hurt one another.

I don’t know all the answers, and maybe that doesn’t matter, but I do know that things happen in my life that I can’t explain through science, as much as that scares me and comforts me at the same time. Sometimes I have insight I can’t understand, thoughts I can’t imagine I created and experiences that happen too regularly to be coincidence. I see things go on, read things around me, listen, speak, interact and feel things happen that all go together and I run myself ragged trying to explain it all away. It would be easier, wouldn’t it, just to know why it all happened and explain how it all could be understood easily through a reasonable method? At this point in my life I answer “no”. I answer “no” not because I don’t support science or the scientific, reasonable method of searching for truth through the observable natural universe. I answer “no” because I will not yet believe that is the only way we can know. I don’t know much, but as far as the spectrum goes, from faith & belief to science & reason, I am in the middle.

September 5, 2006


To end the first class meeting of our two-hour Creation/Evolution Seminar, Dr. Metz closed with the comment, "As far as my opinion is concerned, I have not come to a conclusion on the matter. I am waiting for more evidence to come in." As a fellow student of science, I respect this opinion and regard it as educated. However, the fact that Dr. Metz is a Christian was re-iterated throughout class and, so far as I could assert, that opinion was never supported by any factual evidence. Now, I say this not to call out Dr. Metz, but to ask a bigger question:

If we subject our knowledge of the natural world to absolute scrutiny through the scientific process, what is the standard to which the spiritual world is held accountable?

I recognize that science and religion are quite different, but I wonder how they are different exactly. On page 8 of our book Creation vs. Evolution: An Introduction, the author Eugenie Scott writes, "Science is quintessentially an open-ended procedure in which ideas are constantly tested, and rejected or modified. Dogma - an idea held by belief or faith - is anathema to science." Although dogma is not religion, they can and often do go together. Rather than test, reject or modify religious teachings some believers accept them through faith and refuse to subject their faith to reason.

That said, where is the middle ground? How can we apply the scientific method to questions about the meaning of life, life after death or the existence of heaven and hell? With no evidence supporting (confirming) these ideas or rejecting (unconfirming) them, some scientists believe there is life after death, a heaven and hell and meaning to life provided by God while others (completely justified) believe in none of it. Is this un-testable disagreement the middle ground? Can the two ever come together on similar terms?

It is my hope to better answer these questions throughout our seminar this semester but I think, like Dr. Metz, I might come out in the end wanting for more evidence. Ironically, I might come to the same conclusion as one scientist in the book:
"As an adolescent I aspired to lasting fame, I craved factual certainty, and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life - so I became a scientist. This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls."

September 4, 2006


In our increasingly high-tech society, it is refreshing to have conversations with real human beings every once in a while. Actually, more often than that might be good for our health

I spoke with Jonathan, one of my closest friends, this weekend about the loneliness that can accompany growing older and he said he felt the same way. As in a lot of things, just hearing that someone else is going through it too can really make a lot of difference. Things aren't the same as they used to be, but at the same time we both agreed it's comforting to know that we are growing up and becoming more educated about the world around us. We are starting to find out what we really like, rather than what other people like for us, and we are deciding what we want to do with the rest of our working lives and why.

Attending their senior year of college or not, twenty-one year olds are a far cry from their old eighteen-year old selves. The world is exciting, but not in nearly the same way as it was back then. More opportunities are available than ever, but we are becoming much more picky. And at times it seems like the world is pulling us in every direction and we are just wanting to put out feet down to say, "No. Wait." It's time to make a decision...but I just want to take my time.

September 3, 2006


I just came across this thought from last May and found it to have a lot of meaning for me now especially as I start into the difficulty, fun and challenge know as senior year. I hope that I can go through it as gracefully as the graduates did last year, and that I enjoy it just as much.
Each year of my college career I have attended a graduation ceremony in Buies Creek. This year will be my third graduation. It marks the year before my own senior semesters at Campbell and it also brings with it the departure of many many close friends.
In the first graduation I attended, during my freshman year, I knew very few graduating seniors. Cheryl Storer, who I accompanied to Spring Formal, was there as the Algernon Sidney Sullivan Award winner and recent Biochemistry graduate. It was an honor to be there as her guest and as I looked on toward the speakers, officials, faculty and students, it felt like an honor to be called a student at Campbell University.
In my second graduation, I knew quite a few more seniors. I worked with some in the Haunted Trail run by Circle K that year. Some where TA’s or RA’s I knew, some were friends who I saw all over campus and some very close classmates who made my year extremely enjoyable. I even wrote a few of them notes to say thank you and passed those to them when we met, they in their black robes and me in my blue suit with a Junior Marshal shash. It was an honor to be there.
In my third graduation, this year, I will know many more seniors than in either of the past years. So many in fact, that it has become even more overwhelming to consider it. It will be a very happy occasion with great joy shared between hundreds of people and I look forward to that. However, it will also be a bittersweet occasion marked by hundreds of people splitting ways for a very long time. Students will begin jobs, transfer to other schools, matriculate into graduate programs and go home for the summer. Students will leave teachers and friends will leave friends. Likely not for forever, but for quite some time indeed.
This has taught me a lot in the past about appreciating what I have when I have it. It is easy to complain and forget about all the great things all around me, but luckily I have the reminder of those great things as they slip away every May, year after year. People, wonderful people, cannot stay here forever. They grow and move on, learn and share their knowledge, prepare for and then live their lives. As I prepare and grow, I have to move on too. My senior year is coming and I have a lot to do too. I am very grateful for all of the wonderful seniors who will be leaving this May, and I do not regret a single moment I have spent with any of them. I hope that they feel as special as they are and that they are excited about what opportunities lie ahead of them. I know I certainly am.


In Mr. Yount's physics class during high school I remember asking a question, "Why does one of my bathroom mirrors reflect differently than one of my others?" It could be for a lot of reasons, he answered, but more than likely it is because the glass and the supporting metal behind it is slightly bent. One is built into a sliding door, I told him, and the other is on the wall. Pleased with the evidence, Mr. Yount nodded. "How do I know which was is the right one?" I then asked. But before he could answer, another question came from the side of the room, "Which one makes you look better?" I turned to the far side row, finding Brad Penley. "The one on the wall does," I told him. "I'd say that's the right one," he replied.
It cracked me up then and still does now. I still don't know which mirror was the right one, atleast not scientifically, but does it really matter? It was a simple predicament for Brad, uncomplicated by in-depth research of any kind. He just went with the better reflection and moved on with his life. That was something I was hesitant to do and, in all honesty, am still hesitant to do. I see mirrors all the time in people, articles, recommendations and gossip, as well as in the glass and silver variety, and frankly it is still confusing. I love to see who I am, or atleast get a glimpse of it somehow, but way too often I want for something objective to show me who that is. Maybe it is a better idea for me to collect all the evidence and decide for myself what reality is. Then I can move on and get to the more important things in life. After all, like I wrote about a year and a half ago, that is what we should really be doing anyway.


  1. Network!!! I wish I could say that everything is earned solely on merit, but I would be lying to you. Depending on the school or setting, sometimes you must have an alum of a particular area in order for your application to have that extra edge. In a case where 2 applications are equally competitive, but one has a reference from Dr. Alumnus himself, I have a feeling that application will be taken more seriously. When you are networking, I do not imply that you should “kiss up,” but really try to leave a good impression.
  2. Shadow as many people in as many different practice settings as possible. If you have the least bit of interest in a field, you should go investigate. Grad school is very expensive; you want to make sure you have a good idea of the different practice avenues there are and what you will do on a day to day basis…and that you are sure it will make you happy.
  3. Find a mentor. Once you have found a doctor you really admire, ask him or her what steps were taken to get where they are today. Where did they go to school? Why did they choose their particular field? Do they have advice? Let them know what a big impact they have made on you. Develop a close relationship with this person. You will need references for gradschool applications.
  4. Stay in contact with anyone you shadowed. Write/type thank you notes and send them by snail mail to all the people who have helped form your decisions, even to the ones who helped you decide NOT to pursue a particular path. Remember, you 1) may still use them as a reference, and 2) did take up some of their time…oh yes, and 3) that you represent Campbell University. You may be paving the way for future students to gain valuable experiences from these doctors.
  5. The path to becoming a doctor is never easy. You must sell yourself…don’t feel like you should not ask questions or express your interest in their field. It is going to be a difficult journey to become a doctor, and you need to demonstrate perseverance and enthusiasm.
  6. Attire…if you look nice, you will instantly have a more favorable audience than if you are in jeans. You are going to school to be a professional…try to dress that way and you will be taken seriously.
  7. When you’re in the interview:

a. Relax! These people are just trying to get to know you as a person. If you made it to the interview, it’s a great sign…it means they liked the application, and they want to get to know you better. Remember, they are people just as you are, with different strengths and weaknesses as you. They’re not perfect. They don’t expect you to be either. So…smile!...and just be yourself. You want them to like you for you, not a false impression of you.

b. Ask them questions about their program and how it’s unique, compared with other programs. Do you have an interest in a specialty area? Ask for more information. Are you interested in research? These are so many grants for medical doctors/Ph.D.’s out there. Know their website, do your homework before the interview. See what piques your interest from the site.

c. Be courteous to everyone. I am an ambassador at UAB (University of AlabamaBirmingham). I have personally recommended a handful of students to the program, without their knowing, and I am excited to say they made it in. Everyone, from the secretaries, to the students, has a voice.

d. Try to talk to as many students as possible. They have a very unique and important voice that should help you to decide if the school will be a good fit for you. Interview them – find out what they think are the best and worst aspects of attending their school. Keep in mind, one person’s opinion is good but may not be a good representation of the entire student body.

8. I intend to keep the following e-mail address for a long time. Email me with any questions: My name is Cheryl Storer and I am an optometry student at UAB School of Optometry. Please put in the subject line “Campbell Student Seeking Advice,” and I promise I won’t delete it!

Good luck, and remember, relax! And network.

Once you’re in…

· Enjoy your break to the fullest. Try to at least give yourself a week before starting school to just relax. Don’t work up till the last second (speaking from experience!).

· Consider moving to the town where your new school is located. Part of the adjustment to grad school is just finding out the layout and “feel” of the city. Go ahead and drive around, find out where everything is because when school starts, you’ll be super busy and won’t have time to get lost. If you attend church, go ahead and start looking for one. Especially if you’re far from home, these people will quickly become your family. Go ahead and get plugged in.

· When school starts, try to pick just a couple of activities that REALLY interest you and put your free time to good use. This will not be like undergrad, when you could be president of 3 clubs, in band or drama, and keep a 4.0 GPA.

· Be aware that you will probably not make all A’s. In fact, there are times when C’s look thrilling to you. In grad school, you are competing with the best-of-the-best and sometimes you will shine, but with others, you may have a more difficult time.

· Try to encourage peers to join in study groups to maximize study time. Don’t share/discuss grades. It is healthier to just recognize that it is a great honor to be there, and that you are all in it together…try to pool your resources.

· Remember that the end justified the means. Nothing worth anything comes without a price. It is hard work, but it will all be worth it in the end, when you walk across the stage at graduation.

· Try your hardest, but do not immerse yourself so much in your books that you forget to be a person. All of us have our own ways to relax. Personally I have a blast playing in an orchestra. I work out in the gym or on trails 3 to 4 times a week. Find out what you need to unwind, (outside of your field), and schedule it in. I think of it like this…if I do not get out in the real world and talk to people outside of optometry (my school), play music, and work out and I just eat, breathe, and sleep optometry, chances are, I will get sick. And missing class & quality study time is a BIG DEAL. So it’s healthier for me to set aside my “play time” every day, even if it’s only for 30 minutes. It makes a difference.

· Remember, the same treatment is given to the student with a 3.0 as a 4.0…once they walk across the stage, they are both called “doctor.” We have a comforting phrase that I have heard both medical and optometry students quoting at conferences:

C = OD or MD or DO, etc.

This does not mean that you should slack off! Try to do your best! Also a disclaimer, this does not apply to grad school admissions…it’s more applicable once you’re “in”.

- Cheryl Storer