Monday, March 10, 2008


When I took on the Stallings Collection, I had two general education classes left to complete for graduation in addition to a handful of history courses. The history classes were simple enough and I picked up lots of independent study credits and public history internship credits so that my time could be best focused on the completion and opening of the Stallings Collection.

My plan back in January of 2006 when I first went through the entire two hundred and sixty-six boxes of the collection was to do a research paper. I didn't know this would become a never ending project. More importantly my plan back in the spring of 2006 was to graduate in May of 2007 and go off to a decent graduate program somewhere (either University of Idaho or out of state).

The spring of 2007 brought with it numerous setbacks, the progress on the collection being the least of them. Health problems caused me to be out of commission for a time and unable to graduate in May as I had planned because I was unable to finish my two remaining general education courses that spring despite having completed my history and political science requirements.

Knowing how much work remained on the Stallings Collection and knowing that I would need a semester to finish my general education classes, the second-half of a German course I took as a freshman and the dreaded freshman Biology, I decided to do something called the last semester senior option at ISU where I could take graduate level courses and undergraduate courses simultaneously. In theory I would get a few graduate courses under my belt and once the collection was complete and open to the public in January I would go finish my master's degree at another institution.

When the Stallings Collection opened in January, there was still work to be done. Despite it being open to the public there are odds and ends that remain. It may be August before all of these odds and ends are wrapped up. So, in December when I chose to take off for Arkansas and Texas instead of staying glued to my desk to work on the collection, I made the final decision that I would be staying at ISU to get my M.A. in History and Political Science while finishing the collection.

This is all well and good because I greatly look forward to writing my master's thesis, working with the wonderful faculty at ISU, and finishing the Stallings Collection without the pressure of a deadline.

However, I still haven't passed Biology. I have been enrolled in Biology for five consecutive semesters. Two summer sessions, one spring semester, and now two fall semesters. It is the bane of my existence. And with a failing grade at midterm I am discouraged.

My brain did not come with the section designated for understanding or retaining scientific or mathematical information. My brain is equipped with trivia, historical tidbits, and random facts, but it cannot comprehend chemistry or algebra. I can name the presidents of the United States in order. I can tell you the name and license plate designation for each of Idaho's forty-four counties. Nearly every piece of legislation sponsored by Stallings in his four terms in Congress is neatly filed away in my memory in the event that I ever need it. I possess a vocabulary that includes English, Latin, and German.

But I cannot for the life of me pass Biology!! At this rate it may be a permanent lebensperre.


Jared said...

Good luck Tara! I know you can do it. I remember how much your graduation depended on Algebra in HS, and you pulled it off then.

I took my freshman biology class as a junior. Freshman bio at BYU has a reputation for not being incredibly hard, but for having bad TAs that do all the grading, endless piles of busywork, and lots of useless readings. So I decided to take bio through the honors program because they have a reputation for not being so hard (go figure). I went to see what the topic was going to be that semester (because it changes with the teacer in the honors program) and I'm not lying when I say the subject was Wildlife Management and Public Policy! I got so lucky and ended up with an A in what amounted to essentially a poli sci class about wildlife managment! I am certain it was the only way to keep me somewhat attentive in bio!

Tara A. Rowe said...

Thankfully, Mr. Payne in high school was able to understand that my brain just doesn't get Math and I needed to graduate or I'd still be at DHS!!

So very not fair that your Bio class was like that...

Kris McCracken said...

I couldn't imagine combining Pol Sci, History (my two majors) with biology!

As with you, I suspect that my brain cannot compute the complex mathematic principles required for the 'hard' sciences.

I just hope that you're not setting yourself up for a biological interpretation of the political world, ala Herbert Spencer! :)

IdahoRocks said...

Think of it as a whole new nomenclature and apply it to language. You have to understand certain biological principles in order to understand language development; cognitive processes, so important for political framing; language disabilities; a spectrum of common neurological disorders from autism to OCD to Tourettes; the Linnaeus classification system; physical attraction; and bloody nose remedies. You can do it. You are too bright not to.