Category Archives: School

A Crazy Seven Days

It’s been a hectic week this past week for us.  This was the last week of school and then we had a busy Memorial Day Weekend.

Kaleya at school luau
Kaleya w/ 1st grade teacher

On Saturday, I took a quick trip up north of Nashville to visit a genealogy friend. On Sunday, I met up with a group visiting the states from Spain to help one member of the group search for her family. On Monday I rested most of the day, but did various household tasks. We did however, take a quick trip out to Radnor Lake. I’d not been there before, so it was nice to just walk around some.

whoa! a deer!
beautiful Lake Radnor

Busy, busy, busy!

Museum Night

Kaleya’s school hosts a “museum night” four times a year and they are cool events. Last week, they held their third one of the year. The themes vary by grades and on Kaleya’s floor the theme was “Rainforests.”  Here are some pictures of the evening.

The Lorax - preserving trees is what it's all about
the water cycle
the kids and family friend in the Rainforest hall
love this pic! show me your leopard face Kaleya!
three well-placed eggs balance these textbooks

Vanderbilt College Tour

I’ve gotten just a little behind in my family blog posting, but today we took the kids on a college tour of Vanderbilt! Much fun! Kamau and Miles need to start thinking about college and they’ve been getting their fill these past couple of weeks.  :-)

Last week, Kalonji took them to TSU’s College of Engineering, Technology, and Computer Science for a tour. Miles is expressing an interest in engineering, so they were able to get a tour and understanding of the field.  Kamau is involved in ROTC at school so Kalonji took him to speak with a Vanderbilt ROTC program.  They gave Kamau a VU ROTC t-shirt.

the VU ROTC shirt

Then today we participated in the Vanderbilt College Tour. Even though I’ve worked at the Eskind Biomedical Library for 12 years now, I had never spent much time on the undergraduate side so it was quite educational.   The Admissions staff gave an overview of the university, the opportunities available, and the applications process. Following the inside orientation, we took an extensive campus tour.

listening to the guide in the Heard library

We also went over to the Commons, ten houses of residential housing specifically for the Freshmen class and that was nice. I’d not been to that part of campus at all.  I like the idea of the Commons and think it would have been cool if I’d had that in college :-)

VU class of 2012 form their graduation year in the Commons. Photo from Vanderbilt Magazine.

As we were walking around, Jihad kept saying “This is heaven!” Yeah, at 13 years old years old you’d think he was ready to go to Vanderbilt tomorrow.  In any case, it doesn’t hurt to be thinking about colleges now.  Ah well, we’ll see what the cards may hold for all of them :-)

 

Ready 4 School

It’s August and the start of a new school year!  Today was the first day of school for the Kaleya & Jihad.  Of course, Jihad’s well experienced in this, but this is Kaleya’s first year as she is entering kindergarten.  How quickly they grow up.  Of course I had to take a few pictures this morning :-)

posing
showing off the Disney Princesses backpack
who has school spirit? (more like school rocker spirit?)
Kaleya in the classroom

Major Milestone – My 3rd Degree!

Today I reached a major milestone, I graduated from Vanderbilt University receiving my Masters of Public Health degree.

The MPH degree program at Vanderbilt is fairly unique as it caters more to current Vanderbilt physicians — enrollment does not generally include outsiders.   I, as an information professional at the Vanderbilt Eskind Biomedical Library, was the only member of my class that does not hold an MD degree.  I was fortunate enough to be able to have this opportunity due to my supervisor at work, who also served as my research mentor through the degree program.   As a student,  I am sponsored by the Department of Biomedical Informatics via the National Library of Medicine (this is the 2nd time I have been an NLM fellow).

Today, I participated in the Vanderbilt Commencement; my degree was conferred as part of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.  The graduation ceremony was a two-part affair; the main commencement occurred on Alumni Lawn for all degree candidates.  Then, before they began announcing the undergraduates,  the graduate schools all recessed for separate ceremonies.

9am:  As I mentioned,  I was part of the School of Medicine, so we lined up to prepare for procession behind the Sarrat Center.  Here is a photo as two members of the MD class stood next to the banner to lead us on the lawn.

The view from our seats in the lawn was absolutely gorgeous! We were fortunate to be able to be outside as later in the afternoon we had thunderstorms.   On the stage, you see the banners for all the schools of the university and each color represents a discipline.  As you see, Medicine is green.

I was tweeting & posting updates to Facebook throughout the event and got a bit too quick on the keyboard during the official conferring of degrees.  The Chancellor acknowledged each class separately so I thought that was the official moment of conferment after he addressed the School of Medicine group,  but then after going through each school, he asked us all to stand for the words that specifically confer the degree.

10:30am:  After the main ceremony, the graduate schools recessed and went to our separate ceremonies.  Off to Langford Auditorium I went to get ready.  But, I stopped at the library and had a few pictures taken :-)  I don’t know what was up with the face Kaleya was making!

11:15 am: The School of Medicine ceremony began at about 11:15 am.  I did not take any pictures of the ceremony proper, just a few of students as we waited around for the processional into the auditorium.   During the ceremony,  81 degrees were conferred to non-MD students (this included Doctor of Audiology,  Master of Education for the Deaf, Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology, Master of Public Health, Master of Science in Clinical Investigation,  Master of Laboratory Investigation, and Master of Medical Physics).   There were 160 graduates receiving their Doctor of Medicine degrees; the largest class in the history of the School of Medicine.  The ceremony was lovely and it was especially endearing to see family members of graduates present the degrees to their graduating student.

I was quite happy to receive my diploma in hand!

2:30pm:  Following the ceremonies, the School of Medicine provided a nice lunch to graduates, family & friends, and after that I attended the MPH graduates reception.   There were 15 members in my class that graduated.   At the reception,  the MPH program gave us all Vanderbilt MPH clocks and the book, The Ghost Map, which recounts the tale of the 1854 London cholera epidemic as figured out by John Snow, one of the founders of epidemiology.  This was great b/c from Day 1 of the program we discuss John Snow’s work! I’d wanted to read the book since I began the program in August 2008, but I sure did not have time.  I guess they figure now that we’re done, we have time :-).  I plan on reading it this summer.

At the end of the day I was utterly exhausted!  It’s been a great day though.   As far as what’ s next, I’ll be re-entering my library again as a full-time staff member July 1 as part of our Knowledge Management group and will be tasked with assisting in our research and ongoing knowledge management efforts.  I will definitely have opportunities to use the information I’ve learned during the program and of course, continue to expand upon them.

Ta ta for now!  To see all my photos, please visit my Photo Album.

Update:  to see pictures from my past graduations, see my genealogy blog.

My Trip to Portland

Today I have come back home after a trip to Portland, Oregon.  I was in Portland to attend the National Library of Medicine Informatics Training Conference.  The National Libray of Medicine provides funding for 18 educational institutions in the U.S., who in turn fund students to pursue education and research in informatics (bioinformatics, clinical informatics, public health informatics, imaging informatics, library informatics and more).   My institution, Vanderbilt University, is one of the schools that receives the fundings and it is through this program that I am able to pursue my MPH degree.   Once a year, the NLM brings together all the trainees for an annual meeting as an opportunity to get to meet one another and become aware of the various research and projects being undertaken.  Our hosts for the meeting was Oregon Health &  Science University (OHSU)  in Portland.

After two very full Southwest flights to get there, I arrived in Portland Monday evening.  I stayed at the Hilton downtown, which offered great accommodations.  I was quite tired so ended up ordering room service rather than venture out anywhere.   From my hotel room, I had a good view of one of the hillsides in the area.

On Tuesday, our meeting activities started bright and early, with buses at the hotel to take us to the OHSU campus at 6am.  The OHSU campus has a prime location – they sit at the top of Marquam Hill, which offers a stunning view of the city of Portland.  I was not able to find a recent picture that I felt showed the height of the campus well enough with all of its extensive development now, but here is an image from the OHSU Library Digital Archives of the campus in the 1920s.  From this, you can clearly see their positioning at the top of the hill.

After a good morning session of presentations and posters (I’ll post later about them), it was time for lunch.  Our visit to the campus happened to coincide with the campus Farmer’s Market.  Vanderbilt has a Farmer’s Market too, but theirs was more extensive – they had many tables set up with items ranging from fruits, veggies, bbq, gifts, candy even!

They also had performers playing live music.  It was lovely, and we all ate lunch out on one of the campus lawns. This was the view from where I was sitting, on the steps of MacKenzie Hall.

After lunch, there were more sessions. To leave the OHSU campus, I took the Aerial Tram – this was definitely a major highlight of the trip! The tram goes back and forth from the top of the hill down to the bottom, where I took the streetcar back to the hotel. The views from the top were absolutely stunning. From there, you can also see the omnipresent Mt. Hood off in the distance.

Of course, my photos don’t even do it justice. As we rode down the tram, Mt. St. Helens also comes into view. Can you imagine that? All that scenery, plus two mountain off in the distance? Gorgeous!

That evening, I went out to dinner with my friend Aimee. We went to Library school together and she is a teen librarian in the area now. We have not seen each other in 7 years, so of course it was good to see her! We ate Mexican and then afterwards she took me to Voodoo Donut, a Portland tradition – a place known for its outrageous donuts.  Tell me, did I really need to eat The Old Dirty Bastard (chocolate, oreos and peanut butter) and the Marshall Mathers donuts?

As Kelli said, these were heart attacks waiting to happen. But, they were good :-)

On Wednesday, there were more conference activities, and after I left I had planned to go back to the hotel for a restful last night.  However, as I was taking the streetcar back (and yes, I took the tram down again), I saw the stop for the Multonomah County Central Library, and it was very near my hotel.  So, I hopped off and had to visit.

And what a great visit it was!  First of all, the library is absolutely gorgeous!  It is the oldest library west of the Mississippi with this particular building erected in 1913. It has had a renovation since then and the interior is gorgeous.  When I walked in, I was immediately taken by the steps of the grand staircase.  They are a deep black with engravings and words etched into them.  The design was created by Larry Kirkland and is called “Garden Stair,” however, I’ve had difficulty finding any good pictures of it online. I knew I should have taken some myself, but my camera battery was dying. I did get a postcard, so I took a picture of the postcard.

I did not make it over to the Children’s section, but there is a big tree there and the room is named for Beverly Cleary, who is from Oregon.  I can’t tell you how many of her Ramona books I read growing up.  I didn’t find this out until I was leaving, but if I’d realized this, I would have looked around there too.

I quickly made my way to the periodicals section as I was there on a mission.  I will post more about that on my genealogy blog.   Free wi-fi access made for a comfortable few hours there before I headed back to my hotel room.

Thursday morning, I overslept so left the hotel in quite the hurry, but I really did enjoy my brief stay.  Mabye next time I’ll get to stay longer.  While I’ve put plenty of pictures in this post, I have more in my photo album.

Major Milestone Reached & DigiScrapping To Share

Over the past week I’ve been quite relaxed.  At the end of May I reached a milestone in my degree program when I finished the curriculum portion.  Now, I need to focus heavily on research, but I am no longer in class 3 hours every day and also have to balance homework, work, family and squeeze in some time for hobbies.  Also, I’m quite excited about the research project I’ll be undertaking, and this month I’ll be writing up the research protocol and preparing for the next 10 months of work.

In other news, I was able to finally finish my scrapbook for my mother of Kaleya’s second year of life.  She has not seen it yet – I need to mail it to her this week, but I’m very delighted with the results.  Here is a slideshow of the pages:

This weekend I’m still doing some catch up at home and w/ some projects, and am beginning scrapbook #3 for my mom – this next one will cover the calendar year of 2007.

High Blood Pressure Survey Results

I would like to thank EVERYONE who filled out the high blood pressure survey for me. You are all incredible!  The information I learned from your answers was fulfilling in more ways than just the one I anticipated.  For my thesis work, I will be working with colleagues to ask these questions of some of our patients in the medical center.  We are planning to study how effective an educational intervention we put together can be for improving how much people understand and know about hypertension.  These questions come from a quiz developed by the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute back in 1994. (Publication #94-3671). 

Many of you have asked to see the answers so I thought you would be interested in this overall information.  If you supplied your email address, I’ll email you your individual results directly.  Overall, there were 34 responses and the average score was 75% (which would mean you answered 8 out of 12 questions correctly).

Some even asked how I created the survey.  To do so, I used a WordPress plugin called “Surveys” and it is fantastic! I was able to create the quiz very quickly and results can be seen in aggregrate or individual view.  You can even export to CSV file.  The only drawback I see is that inablity to make an answer be “required” and as such, I had one person’s data who is not counted here because that person did not answer all the questions.  Other than that though, everyone answered all questions. 

Disclaimer:  This is not intended to be medical advice, i’m simply sharing the facts. 

Question 1:  The correct answer to “There is nothing you can do to prevent high blood pressure” is FALSE.  94% of respondents answered this correctly.    There are indeed steps that you can take to prevent high blood pressure (HBP) that include keeping a healthy diet,  exercising regularly,  limit salt & sodium intake, and moderate intake of alcohol. Read here for more.   

Question 2:  The correct answer to “If your mother or father has high blood pressure, you will get it too” is FALSE.  94% of respondents answered this correctly.    You are indeed more likely to get hypertension if it runs in your family, but this does not mean you will get it.  Your chance of getting hypertension are also higher if you’re African-American. But,  HBP is not an inevitable part of getting older and it can be prevented as outlined in Question 1.

Question 3:  The correct answer to “Young adults do not get high blood pressure” is FALSE.  Everyone answered this correctly! It is estimated that about 3% of children have high blood pressure and it often goes missed in this group.  Once you have HBP, you have it for the rest of your life.  So, even kids and young adults need to maintain healthy behaviors to prevent it.  Read more

Question 4:  The correct answer to “High blood pressure has no symptoms” is TRUE.  76% of respondents answered this correctly.  Hypertension usually has no symptoms and this is the reason it is called “the silent killer.” You can have HBP for a VERY long time and not know it precisely because of this.  That is why it is important to have it checked.  Now, I might be one of these people that would argue the wording on this question b/c there are times when you do display symptoms.  However, if you’re displaying symptoms, you are likely to be in a hypertensive crisis which is a SEVERE increase in blood pressure.  But, regular HBP is asymptomatic. 

Question 5: The correct answer to “Stress causes high blood pressure” is FALSE.  Only 18% answered this correctly.  This was interesting that so many people answered incorrectly, but I personally think it gets at one of the common misconceptions about HBP.  I even hear my husband say repeatedly how stress causes HBP, but the official word from the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute is that stress does not cause HBP.  Stress can cause a temporary increase in your blood pressure, but spikes are normal.  Stress can contribute to HBP, but it is not considered a cause for CHRONIC high blood pressure.   Continued stress over time may contribute to high blood pressure, but there are other factors in people who have high stress levels over time that are more likely to be the culprit rather than the stress itself.  Therefore, it is still important to reduce your stress levels.  Read some tips how

Question 6: The correct answer to “High blood pressure is non life-threatening” is FALSE.  Everyone answered correctly! High blood pressure is the main cause of stroke and factor in the development of heart disease and kidney failure, and heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the United States.  Looks like you all know this!

Question 7: The correct answer to “Blood pressure is high when its at or over 140/90 mmHg” is TRUE.  79% answered correctly.  But, it is important to note that even values slightly under this can put you at risk.  If your blood pressure is between 120-139/80-89, you can be what is called “pre-hypertensive” which means you don’t have high blood pressure now, but are likely to develop it in the future

Question 8: The correct answer to “If you are overweight, you are two to six times more likely to develop high blood pressure” is TRUE.  Everyone answered this correctly! I’m not surprised by that. :-)  I don’t think much of an explanation is needed here. 

Question 9:  The correct answer to “You have to exercise vigorously every day to improve your blood pressure and heart health” is FALSE.  82% answered correctly.  The trick in this question are the words “vigorously” and “every day.”  While it is true exercise helps keep blood pressure down, all you need is 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week.  

Question 10: The correct answer to “Americans eat two to three times more salt and sodium than they need” is TRUE. Everyone answered correctly.  Looks like we are all well-informed on this aspect! The sodium in salt is the part that affects blood pressure and the current recommendation is to consume no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium (about 1 teaspoon of table  salt)  per day

Question 11:  The correct answer to “Drinking alcohol lowers blood pressure” is FALSE. 79% answered this correctly. Drinking alcohol raises blood pressure and the current recommendation is 1 drink/day for women; 2 drinks/day for men.  

Question 12:  The correct answer to “High blood pressure has no cure” is TRUE and 70% answered this correctly.  HBP is a chronic disease, which means that once you have it, you have it for life.  It cannot be cured, but it can be treated and controlled.  The best way to avoid the dangers of HBP is to prevent it! (see Question 1). 
Thank you all again for anwering the quiz.  It has been helpful for me in thinking about how we can approach our project and to get a sense of how people do w/ this quiz.  Thanks!

I Need Help! High Blood Pressure Survey

Hi everyone, 

I need some help collecting some quick and dirty data for a school project.  Can you take this quiz on high blood pressure.  Please do not go and look for answers, just answer based on what you currently know.  None of this will be made public, I just need results for some calculations I need to figure out. Thank you!

(survey removed, see follow-up post)