Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Paying it Forward

Paying it Forward: Inspired by my Apprentice

                When I started in organic chemistry, my mentor agreed to train me on one condition.  That is, that I would unselfishly share all of the skills and knowledge that I obtain with other chemists – so called “paying it forward”.  I always wondered when or if I would be in the position to pass on the skills, tips, and hood tricks that I have collected over the years to an apprentice. I wasn’t sure if or when I’d be a mentor but I just hoped I would do a good job.  After all, I would be teaching someone habits and skills that they will most likely carry with them throughout their career – it’s a big responsibility!  Recently, the time came for me to share my skills and knowledge with a bright young mind.
                For the past couple months, I have had the pleasure of working with a very special young man, Jason Ge.  Jason is a high school student here in San Diego at Westview High School. But he isn’t an ordinary student by any means.  Jason has represented the US in the prestigious International Chemistry Olympiad and can write the mechanism of the Boger Pyridine Synthesis with his eyes closed (No, I’m not kidding!).
                Last week, I came to know that Jason has started his own non-profit organization called “catalyst4success”.  Each day, Jason and his team of fellow high school students travel to surrounding elementary, middle, and high schools where they teach youngsters about chemistry and perform live chemistry “magic shows.”  Thus, Jason is “paying it forward” too.
                Catalyst4success  has reached over 10,000 students this year – just amazing!  They have traveled up and down the coast and have dedicated themselves to reaching as many students as possible. Jason and his team fund the organization through donations but the funds come mostly out of their own pockets.  I didn’t write this posting intended to be a call for donations but “What’s $20 anyway?”  This is a chance for you to “pay it forward” too! You can donate at their website – there is a donate tab on the top right of the homepage.
                I was planning on teaching Jason about the importance of being a good mentor and role model to others at the end of his internship…..but it looks like he’s got that one covered.  I hope that Jason will be inspired at the end of his time here – I know that he has inspired me!

Check out this video:

I Took My Mom to See Science Live

“Are you wearing heels?” I asked, and my mother nodded. “Mom, trust me, you don’t want to wear them in lab. You should switch them to some flats.” And she did, rather begrudgingly. My mom was visiting me a few months ago, and for whatever reason, decided that it would be a good idea to experience a full day in a chemistry lab. Not a very good start, I thought, but at least she was sensible enough to wear a comfortable shirt and a pair of jeans.