August. It’s one of those months that you love and one that you hate – both at the same time. It’s that time in the summer when you feel that you’re just hitting your stride. Then all of the sudden signs of fall start popping up all over the place – goldenrod coming into bloom, cooler nights (wait, that was pretty much this entire summer now, wasn’t it?) and commercials for school supplies galore (which start in July, ridiculous in my opinion, pisses me off quite a bit actually). I always want summer to keep going forever. It’s just a different pace a different feel of life. I love the sunshine, especially when it’s reflecting off of the lakes in northern Wisconsin – nothing better.

For our McNair scholars, the summer represents an oxymoron in that it’s supposed to be a laid-back time of the year, when really, it’s a pretty intense time of personal/professional exploration and preparation for the future. We are now in the midst of some “openness” amid the more previously regimented weeks of the 10-10-20 hour a week time commitment to graduate school, GRE study and research.

I’m always in awe of the amount of “meaningful” progress and forward movement that happens among our students. Projects that may have stalled for one reason or another ultimately get unstuck. Anxiety around the GRE dissolves (yes?) – especially after three hardcore days with Michael Flynn – he’s a genius at teaching techniques AND instilling a relaxed and confident mindset. Grad stuff – it’s usually still in process at this point although most have a good idea of their school list along with a pretty compelling statement of their interests, goals and strongest selling points. They are nearing the SHAZAM moment as I like to call it.

It’s always important to get one’s self in a pretty decent position come August. Ideally, I like to see scholars taking some time off, going home to see family, moving into new apartments and getting settled before school starts up shortly.

I’d like to say CONGRATULATIONS to you all for a fantastic summer!

I really appreciate everyone’s willingness to try out blogging, to be together, have fun and support one another whether it be in the gym, in the computer lab, or teetering high up on the wires. The summer is always a special time, sometimes more so in hindsight, but still, it’s a special time that we often don’t get again.

So, during this month, take a breath and relish in where you are – in your thinking, in your work, in your readiness for fall as well as the bigger picture in your educational journey. Crank it out on the GRE and put a check in the box – put it to bed. Tie up some loose ends when it comes to crafting that baseline statement, writing up your results and deciding upon your schools.

Enjoy some down time knowing that you are in a great position to present your research, move forward in your studies and get those applications in – whether it be for your graduate program or doing more research at the place you want to be next summer.

You all grew a ton this summer in your skills as researchers as well as your understanding of your own abilities, passions and interests.

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