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Counting progress with semesters

Randall F. Clemens

Summer is a precarious time for scholars, young and old. During spring doldrums, when everything is most chaotic, summer becomes a hopeful respite. We long for more time to finish a few articles, grants, and all the other tasks we have delayed. It is a “tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther” type of belief. 

Unfortunately, grand plans sometimes (but not always) turn into meager outcomes. Summer enters and leaves quickly. Lingering tasks from the spring gobble up the first few weeks. Planning for the fall semester takes the last few weeks. A vacation here and long weekend there, all of the sudden, summer becomes much shorter than it seemed when we where kids. 

How was my summer, you wonder? I was pretty productive, somewhere between writing the next great American novel and playing video games for three straight months. If I adjusted for the lack of suitable air conditioning, I did even better. I’m most proud of starting a bridge program for teenagers in South Brooklyn. I partnered with a great community-based organization and got to interact with a lot of wonderful people. Hopefully, I will be able to obtain funding to expand the project. I wrote a few conference proposals, and reviewed (a lot) more. I worked on a few papers, made significant progress on a book, and finished some miscellaneous tasks. I’m most happy about honeymooning in Ireland. I also managed to catch my breath after a series of transitions and a hectic year. As I look back, I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned from semester to semester.  

So, now it’s year two as a professor. What’s the fall forecast? I’m going to continue to blog about my experiences. I’m learning and teaching and researching and writing and conferencing and networking. I’m mentoring high school seniors. I’m submitting a few grants. And, I’m wondering who the next mayor of New York will be and how that person can improve education for students across the city, particularly in low-income neighborhoods. 

Stay tuned.