Today was the last day of class. Yesterday was actually a more significant day, though. It was a day with a lot of mixed emotions for me. First, it was my mom's birthday (happy birthday again, mom!). But since 1989 (the year I started grad school), that day has marked a less pleasant anniversary. That year, a gunman went into L'École Polytechnique in Montréal, specifically sorted out the women in a engineering classroom at gunpoint and shot fourteen of them dead and wounded many more before killing himself.
Every country has its own scars, and that was one of Canada's. I was listening to CBC Radio yesterday, and there was a comment on the event still, all this time later. I wish the story was better known outside Canada.
That awful, awful event of females being specifically targeted because they were studying for technical career had more weight on my mind than usual, because yesterday was the preliminary oral assessment for my graduate student, Sandra. She was supposed to do it the week before, but had been rather ill. She completed her prelim and jumped through the hoop -- not a real graceful jump, but then again, few grad students make graceful jumps through that hoop. (Heaven knows mine was not.) After it was over, we talked quite about about what we needed to do to help her succeed in graduate school, and further her career in biology.
I guess I felt a little more of the weight of responsibility for being a good supervisor yesterday, because of the calendar coincidence.