Interview with Mentor LisaB

Meet a Mentor is a fun series to help you get to know your wonderful Mentors better.

Constructive questions and comments are welcome!

Today we meet: Lisab

Give us a brief history of lisab

I didn’t follow the usual education route. I dropped out of school in about 8th grade to hang out with my hoodlum friends and do hoodlum things. But I would also spend a lot of time hanging out in the county library . I was obsessed with the classic American authors: Steinbeck, Twain, Faulkner, Hemmingway, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams. Truth be told, I got a decent education on this unconventional path.

Teenage brains can be mysterious and illogical. Proof? In my teenage mind: I was going to attend a University and study science! In reality: I had not had a real math class since 7th grade, I had not taken the standard high school curriculum, and I had no idea how to even apply to college. There was a huge gulf between how I saw my life going, and how my life was actually going.

But eventually I got my act together. At 19 I started my formal education at a community college with “Introduction to Algebra”, which most people take when they’re about 12 years old.

Fast forward to today: a year ago I got married and my husband and I live on a farm outside of Olympia, Washington. I have a daughter and three step-kids, all in their 20s. I worked ~20 years doing materials science and chemistry kind of stuff, and I’m currently an Analyst.

Why did you choose physics as your field of study?

I started as a Chemistry major until I took Physical Chemistry. I couldn’t believe a class could kick my *** so thoroughly. So I decided to follow that path, which ended with me getting a BS in physics. I graduated from the University of Washington.

What were some of your biggest challenges while at university?

As everyone here knows, in a typical college curriculum you need to take classes in a certain order. The schedule is designed for full-time students. I could only afford to take one or two (or zero) classes a quarter and this was problematic, since often classes are only offered every two years. There were frequently long gaps between when I took a class, and when I took its prerequisites. That was a huge challenge!

And normally you make friends with other students because you see them again and again as you take the same classes. But only rarely would I see a fellow student I knew from a previous class because I was on the slow path. And by “slow path” I mean, it took me 9-1/2 years to get my BS.

Money was a major issue and I was even homeless at one point.

I can’t say why, but I had no rapport with any of my professors, ever.

But everyone has their own challenges, and getting a STEM education is hard no matter what your obstacles are. My experience has given me considerable empathy for non-traditional students. One reason I love PF is I get to give them encouragement and advice!

What are some on your favorite spots around the Pacific Northwest?

They change all the time! Right now, I love being home on my farm. In a few weeks we are going to plant about 300 apple trees, to grow cider apples for hard cider!

Why the raven as your profile photo?

No explaining it – I’ve always had a strong affinity for crows and ravens.

How does being an optimist shape your real life and PF life?

It gives me tremendous perseverance through hard times. This can have a bad side, though – sometimes I stay in a fight long past the time rational people would (wisely) give up.

What are some of your favorite threads on PF?

This may sound strange, but I really don’t have any real favorites. Random Thoughts is full of gems, so is Quotations and Best Songs. There was a thread on students applying for REUs that I followed like a soap opera! And Bell’s theorem threads are often compelling.

As a member of the PF Sisterhood, can you fill us in on it’s recent activities and any good gossip on it’s leader Evo?

Sure! At our last meeting, we met in ██████████████ █████████████. The plan was to go to ███████████████ with 50 liters of ███████ █████████████████, some ████████████, and lots of chicken bones. We built slingshots and climbed █████████████████ ███████ with some beakers, a bale of catnip, and arsenic. Once we got there, ███ █████████████████████ chicken bones ████████████ ████████████ and a horse.

Evo is great, she went ████████████████████████████████████ until the horse’s tail ███ █████████!!1! The chicken bones ████████ █████████████ ███ under the horse’s ███████████████ ███ ██████ and it was Borek! We were shocked to see him there, he’s not supposed to be at a Sisterhood meeting! He ████████████ the arsenic and then ███████████████ ██████, ██████████████. Of course, we posted his bail. Later that night, we heard him █████████████████████ with some catnip and ██████████ chicken bones ███████ the horse’s ████████████ with a slingshot! Last I heard he got across the border OK, but I’m not sure how he will explain that tattoo to Marzena!

By then, the chicken bones smelled really bad. We cooked the ████ ██████████████ █████████████████ and went back to the sauna. We drank more ████████████ catnip ████████████ until Evo ██████ ██████████████████ chicken bones ████████████!! You wouldn’t think chicken bones would do that!!

Thanks for participating Lisab! Next interview will be posted next week!

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