Learning to Embrace Failure

By: Morgan Sekhon

Over J-term I took a three week class that was entirely focused on the concept of failure in an artistic sense through readings and discussion. Not only did we investigate the role of failure in architecture, objects and design, studio, and other aspects of the artistic world, as a class we also investigated the subsequent emotional aspect of personal failures. That being said part of the class included going out on your own to purposefully FAIL and document it with either videos or pictures. With this being our only instruction, we were required to curiously immerse ourselves in situations where failure was inevitable or the chance of success was almost non-existent. I was forced to set my overly ambitious Type A personality on the back burner for this class and it was awesome – but also extremely scary. I eventually failed at ice skating and rock climbing, while others in the class attempted twerking, karaoke, and Rubik’s cubes. The class ended with an overarching discussion of failure and the implications of your individual mindset about failure. What if we retrained ourselves to look at failure simply as a “delayed success” and a stepping-stone to something greater, instead of inevitable doom? What if we took the pressure to be perfect off of ourselves and embraced failure for the positive learning experience that it is? What if we stopped internalizing the failure as reflecting some inferiority about ourselves? Of course it’s easier said than done, but if we managed to change our mindset we would ultimately never have to “fail” again. Is your mind blown? Because mine was.


A New Perspective

By: Shannon White

Over J-term, I traveled with a Drake class to India. During our time, we traveled to several cities, including Dehli, Agra and Jaipur, and explored sights and their culture. We visited many Hindu temples, Sikh temples, and Muslim mosques and were able to learn first-hand about their religious practices and way of life. We also saw the Taj Mahal and sights that were important during the time of India’s independence. We watched  the ceremonious closing of the gates at the Indian/Pakistani border and explored ruins of ancient Indian civilizations and the Mughal empire. A highlight of the trip was getting to ride elephants up the hill to a Mughal fort. Also during our time in India, we took a class that focused on the history and politics of India during the time they gained their independence from Great Britain. This class was formatted as a role playing game where each student was assigned a character as an important leader of the time and was challenged to represent that leader’s views in a conference that determined India’s fate. It was an awesome and eye-opening experience that exposed us to a very different food, languages and customs.

Experimenting With Flies

By: Morgan Sekhon

 Lab Assistant in Dr. Kliethermes’s Lab

I have worked in Dr. Kliethermes’s lab since the beginning of the fall semester and have found it to be a great experience. I am currently working with Dr. Kliethermes to determine if there is a correlation between ethanol preference and food intake in fruit flies. This is determined by measuring the change in ethanol and food levels within capillary tubes over a 24-hour period. Based on these results, we plan to determine the influence of underlying genes on this correlation, as a total of 21 different genetic strains are being tested. I am currently working on my third pass of the experiment alongside a fellow Phi Delta Epsilon member and other Drake University peers.  The results of these experiments will be used to study the underlying sensory pathways in fruit flies, but also study similar trends in different drosophila species. The results of these experiments will be presented in the spring at the Drake University Conference on Undergraduate Research in the Sciences (DUCURS).

A Summer Well Spent

By: Nayasha Madhan

On her experience working over the summer as a Research Assistant with fellow PhiDE member, McKenzie Leier:

“This summer I worked at Des Moines University as a Research Assistant through the undergraduate/graduate program. As an aspiring medical student, it is important to have a solid research background. I, along with fellow frater McKenzie Leier, applied to the DMU program. After a rigorous application and wait period, we were accepted into the program! Not only did we gain access to authentic research with DMU faculty and graduate students, but we also earned access to all of DMU’s facilities. Furthermore, the program is unique in that it is a paid research experience. Throughout the summer, I have worked almost 200 hours in the lab. My lab research focused on the analysis and in vivo production of an alpha-amylase in Trichomonas vaginalis. My experience has been spectacular so far; I have learned a lot about microorganisms and laboratory techniques. Working on a medical school campus has helped me learn what it is like to be a med student and confirm that I do want to pursue a career in medicine. I’ve been fortunate enough to continue on working in the lab until December, when I will present at a research symposium. Overall, it has been a phenomenal experience, one which I hope will help me greatly as I begin my medical school pursuit.”

While in Nicaragua…

By: James Saxton

On his trip to Nicaragua with his father and fellow PhiDE member, Ali Jandal:

“We went with a group called Global Partners through our local hospital- Gundersen Lutheran. We traveled with ~15 others including surgeons, doctors, radiologists, and others trained in other aspects of the medical field. The purpose of our trip was to give basic medical evaluations to impoverished plantation workers because the plantation owners wouldn’t provide basic medical attention in most cases. Our group was able to conduct a background medical evaluation, give check-ups, screen for certain conditions like mental disabilities, certain types of cancer, and diabetes. We also preformed eye tests and were able to provide glasses to those that needed them. Others in our group preformed surgeries with the local surgeons or helped at the local medical clinics. The experience was extremely eye opening because of all the different people that we saw with different medical problems. The coordination between all of the doctors was amazing and I doubt that any of the patients left feeling dissatisfied because of all the help we were able to provide. I was also given a hands-on role, and while simple in practice, allowed me to practice other aspects of being a medical professional such as maintaining a good, calm manner around patients and attention to detail. I was also given ample opportunity to shadow and connect with the doctors present. In all, I felt as if the trip was very rewarding. I was able to more holistically practice aspects that I feel a medical professional should be skilled in. We brought a much greater livelihood to over 400 individuals. The feeling I received every time one of them smiled as they walked through the door made me realize even more that I want to become a doctor.”