Friday, May 22, 2015

Request: "I Stayed in Graduate School in Chemistry"

A while back, Tehshik Yoon complimented the "I Quit Graduate School in Chemistry" pieces, but asked for stories where people indeed stayed in graduate school, they overcame a challenge and it worked out for them.

I am not done posting "I Quit" stories -- I still have four or five to edit and post. But now that @chemtips has gone and written about the series (for which I thank him), I feel duty-bound to invite success stories as Professor Yoon asked for them:
...So I’d really like to hear some success stories as well.  Tell me about times that the system worked: folks who had a hard time in grad school but ended up in good places; mentors who did the right thing by their students; stories of women, minorities, and LGBT students being supported by the field.
So, with that, I am asking for those stories, or any of them that you choose to post. E-mail them to - confidentiality guaranteed. Also, I am posting the first two in that series today. 


  1. After reading the first two stories, I'm now convinced it's a great idea! I'm sure prof. Yoon will be thrilled to read more stories (I know I was after the first two!). I can't wait for my friend's story where he writes about his time in a lab with an abusive boss who used to regularly come down to yell at them and throw stuff at the wall, and fired him several times... though my friend just assumed the firing was in a fit of anger, so he just came back the next day and everyone acted as if nothing happened. Still, pretty sure if he didn't come back the next day, the firing would have worked, as it did for a couple of others.

    After he got the PhD he swore off chemistry and needed therapy for a bit. Eventually a year later he started working in chemistry again and is now happy in his job. Great story about overcoming a challenge! A very inspiring account of being supported by the field and the like, but the guy was an over-represented minority, so if he failed out it would have better for the nation's equality numbers. He probably stayed because of that minority's educational ethic and having more of a 'fear of God' from his parents than from his crazy boss; some family support that many of us, even other minorities, just don't have... I know reading the whole thing would make me chuckle at the anecdotes and make me want to do grad school again!

  2. CJ, you might add immeasurably to the impact of these “stories” projects by eventually posting a final evaluative assessment of the recurring themes conveyed by those who are willing to share their experiences here… both “why I quit” and “how I managed to stay.” What have we learned here and how important are these messages for students considering graduate school or careers in chemistry?

    What’s missing from all this is the category “how I kept my cool, played by the rules, and got through without any major derailments.” I am sure that applies to some or even many (though not to me, by any stretch of the imagination!)

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looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20