Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Calculus Challenge

As a devoted math student, I had always aspired to reach the highest math classes offered at my school, one of them being Calculus AB. Before it began, I thought the content would be similar in difficulty to other classes I had taken, but to my surprise, calculus did not resonate with me nearly as well as I was expecting it to. In fact, I got a B- on my first exam. After two weeks of studying as I always had for math, I was defeated. This was the first time I had ever struggled in a class at school.

After my disappointing first test, I decided to devise a plan for me to be successful from then on. I began to arrive at school an hour before it began to get assistance from anyone in the math department, and stayed after school for at least 30 minutes for my teacher to expand on the lessons we were being taught. In addition, I watched nearly every Khan Academy video in their calculus regimen to key in on the basics in my teacher's lessons. But that was for a typical school day. Before exams, I realized for me to pass the tests, I needed to redo every homework assignment and every example problem we had done, regardless if it took me ten hours to do it. To solidify my understanding of the concepts we were taught, I often found myself at Perkins before the sun was up discussing my questions with my teacher..
All of my hard work paid off when I ended each quarter in the A-range, and most importantly received a ‘5’ on the AP Calculus AB Exam. This challenging course encouraged me to dedicate myself to be better than I began. Despite feeling like a failure throughout it, I managed to work as hard as I needed to in order to be successful when and where it counted. My overall success in the class encouraged me to enroll in Calculus BC, where today I am continuing to implement the dedication I learned that was required to be successful in Calculus AB.

Sociology Essay

Caribou Coffee: A Place for Socialization and Coffee
    As I entered the newly constructed building for my observation, the aroma drew me in; fresh coffee was brewing behind the register and the sacchariferous bagels appealed to my senses. On first glance, this corporate coffee shop operated by two major companies - Einstein Bagels and Caribou Coffee - may not have appealed to deeply hometown rooted consumers in Buffalo, Minnesota, but the energy and quantity of its customers was overwhelming. Accommodating studious teenagers, families coming from church, and couples on coffee dates, this location drew attention and money from individuals across various backgrounds and encouraged socialization between individuals with varying cultural scripts.
    Initially, the atmosphere of the congested room made it difficult to hear direct verbal communication between cohorts. Loud music overpowered the voices of the individuals around me, but it livened the uncharacteristically warm morning. Acting as the others had, I walked to the register, said a timely “Hello,” and asked for “one small flavored drip brew, please.” The cashier knew her role in comparison to mine and served me my coffee and gestured towards her tip jar - a sign that I should toss my spare change into it. After receiving my coffee from the pickup location, I ventured for a perfect spot to observe from; the corner two-person table with an electric outlet.
    As soon as I sat down, a tumultuous family composed of two adolescent boys, one adolescent girl, and their mother entered. Individually they placed their order and gathered around a table as their mother paid for their beverages. This same occasion occurred consistently; families would approach the cashier and the eldest member of the group would sacrifice their earnings for the rest of them. Because of this consistency, it was obvious to me that regardless of age or gender, this was a norm in the community. Each member of this group knew their cultural script through their shared interpretation and meaning they associated with their parent, subsequently behaving towards and expecting predetermined conditions.
    Aside from method of payment, social interaction, composure, and presentation of individuals played a key role in both verbal and nonverbal interactions. At one point, two individuals sitting nearby me interacted in a way that made it apparent without physical touch or even audible conversation that they were each other's significant other, a specific form of a dyad relationship. The woman hunched over the table occasionally scooting her arms closer to the man’s. Often times, there was chuckling between the two, not a wholesome laugh, but a brief and subtle one. They maintained eye-contact throughout their interaction - another norm recognizable through its repetitive occurrence. Eventually the man looked at his phone and their connection became limited. After about five minutes they stood up, left their plates on the table, pushed in their chairs, and left the building.
    In the meantime, a father and daughter duo entered and proceeded to order their food; however, this order was different. After ordering his own food, the man ordered for his daughter. Similarly to the other groups, he paid the bill, but instead of looking pleased or grateful for the gesture, the teenage daughter, sporting purple hair, looked furious with her father. She rolled her eyes at him then suggested “I’m never [...] happy.” Her father shrugged, rolled his eyes, and stood over the young girl who sat down at the first table she saw. He waited near the pickup table and sat down once his order had been called. After a few minutes of complete silence between the two, the man suggested something. She responded by raising the pitch of her voice which asserted her annoyance. Then she shook her head and looked down into her warm bagel. After this conversation, the two did not speak to each other until after they left. Strangely, they were able to communicate they were leaving without any verbal cues. Alike the couple, they stood up, threw away their garbage, and departed.
Next, a triad walked through the entrance. A father figure limped inside carrying his near three year old daughter at his hip and holding the hand of his other daughter who looked to be about eight. After a moment of studying the menu, he placed an order for himself and his youngest daughter. There was a pause in the conversation to which he looked at the eight year old and suggested “and for you?” She looked at the cashier and placed her order. This interaction is an example of the parenting style Annette Lareau referred to as concerted cultivation. The father could have more simply and time effectively ordered for his daughter, but to encourage her to grow as an individual and develop self-advocacy skills, he asked her to order by herself.
Interactions differed between each father-daughter relationship because the young girls were socialized into society differently, which modified their expected behaviors. These differences changed the way they interacted with their father and likely other figures of authority as well. The eight year old girl was expected to fend for herself and act with respect towards her father. In comparison, the older girl acted rebellious against her father. His attempts to convene with the young adult were brushed aside and overturned. The relationships functioned with alternative sets of expectations as a result of their different modes of socialization.
Interactions that breach the norm can hold effective relationships, but they may be criticized by the in-group. During this observation, one male and one female twenty-something with a child attached to the hip of the mother gathered at the register. Together the triad ordered their meal and sat down at the table. Immediately the man wearing old looking jeans, a disheveled ball cap, and a worn sweatshirt rescaled his receipt to ensure that he had not paid too much for his food. He budged the line to order and asked the cashier if “this was right?” to which she replied “nope, that’s right.” Customers in line looked alarmed and appalled when he budged through the line. This was not only a breach of the social norm for the location, but it could also point towards a socio-economic divide caused by his behavior, his attire, and his concern over a small bill.
Shortly after his conversation with the cashier, the man returned to his table with the group. The woman was smiling, but her eyes and presentation told a different story. The relationship between the mother and father seemed to only exist because of the daughter. Conversation consisted of asking questions to the little girl and little deep conversation between any of them. This suggests that the child mediated the relationship between the adults and that without her presence, their relationship would likely not exist.
Einstein Bagels and Caribou Coffee in Buffalo, Minnesota boasts a vibrant social sanctuary. Although there was little racial diversity, various economic statuses were present as well as various sized groups. Each customer knew their role precisely and they followed the cultural scripts they were socialized with; they ordered their food, paid or allowed their parents to pay, waited at the pick up counter, took a seat, interacted with their group according to their socialization, and threw away their garbage as they were exiting. Because of this social order, the interactions that took place here were meaningful to those involved and their intentions were made clear through tone of voice, physical presentation, and verbal communication.

Cell Cycle Research 2015

Cell Cycle Research
Nina Johnson and Leighton McAlpin

  1. uncontrolled growth of cells, invasive, forms tumors
  2. occurs in the cell cycle (Phase G1) when a cell goes unidentified and continues to produce uncontrollably. The uncontrollable production then forms a tumor when the cells build up. This occurs when Tumor Suppressor cells have a mutation of some sort and cannot stop the production of this cell. They divide in the GO phase but cannot sense when they are being overcrowded, and do not stop reproducing when there has been DNA damage.
  3. There is no cure, but there are treatments. Cannabis (marijuana) is one of the newest treatments to relieve cancer symptoms and pain. It is currently being debated upon in State level legislature.

Spinal Cord Injuries
  1. Damage to the spinal tissue, typically during activities or sports related injuries. Cuts off nerve signals to the brain or from the brain.
  2. Days following the injury, cells may undergo apoptosis, this is due to the activation of mitotic cells. There are delays to cell division between G1 to S and G2 to M. This happens at these checkpoints because the body does not want to reproduce a damaged cell.
  3. Therapeutic Hypothermia- form of neuroprotection aimed to protect cells from stroke, cardiac arrest, and reduce brain injury by decreasing the swelling of an SCI. It is being studied on animals and few Human studies.

  1. Apoptosis is processed cell death. This process is predictable and controlled. These cells commit suicide in response to the body.
  2. When a cell is triggered by the body, the cell shrinks and activates proteins called caspases. These caspases break down parts of the cell that are necessary to life and begin the production of DNases that destroy the DNA. The cell continues to shrink and then sends out distress signals to macrophages which remove any pieces of the remaining cell.
  3. How does apoptosis relate to ALS? Scientists are currently researching how the shutting down of cells through apoptosis and similar processes may relate to the shutting down of the body and its processes.

Stem Cells
  1. Multicellular organisms have undifferentiated cells that have the potential to reproduce indefinitely.  The reproduction can be of the same type of cell, but sometimes new cells can be produced and reproduced through cell differentiation.
  2. In the case of the mammalian embryonic stem cell, Murine, a unique cell cycle occurs.  Typically it can be distinguished as having a short G1 phase followed by a considerably long S phase.  But in the case of embryonic cell differentiation the cell cycle is manipulated and changed to have a longer G1 phase and eventually begins to process as a normal mammalian cell.
  3. Currently, research is being done with stem cells regarding replication of human tissue via 3D printing.  This process begins with neural cells that are differentiated to create new tissue, possibly resulting in organ creation.  After extensive research, someday scientists hope to use these organs to help treat patients and potentially cure diseases.

  1. The process of getting older, and aging.  As time goes on, organisms lose elasticity, strength, and overall body control.  This is a natural process in living organisms and eventually results in death.
  2. Telomeres play a large role in the aging of a cell. Telomeres are the enclosing exterior that contains the DNA of a cell. When cell division occurs, these structures shrink. When the structure becomes too small, it is not able to reproduce. When a cell is no longer able to reproduce, it will eventually die.
  3. As of now scientists are trying to solve the problem of shortened telomeres.  But in the mean time, humans are attempting to perfect the art of living healthier lives, therefore naturally increasing the longevity of their cells.

Autobiography of Self as a Writer

Autobiography of Myself as a Writer
Leighton McAlpin

The beginning of my journey as a writer began when I was two years old when I learned how to sing the alphabet. At this point in my life, my parents were constantly reading to me. I began to pick up on the sounds that each of the letters made. Once I reached kindergarten, learning each letter and their sounds became expectation that I had to meet. I can still remember that I had to be able to say each of them to my teacher Mrs. Muntifering and I couldn't remember some of the sounds that I had to say. I was so disappointed when she told me what I had to work on.  When I came home from school, I spent time working on my letters and sounds, and slowly but surely, I got to the point where I could express anything that I wanted to.

Writing is one of the essential communication systems that makes human beings stand out from other animals on Earth. Your journey on the path of writing begins once you learn the alphabet. Once you have mastered the alphabet, you begin putting letters together and forming what we know as words. Words display our emotions and the thoughts that we have as humans. People learn words from reading and listening, they become important though, when you can put them together to express yourself.

On my first day of going to school all day long, I transferred to Discovery Elementary. My first grade year, I was quite the teachers pet. By saying that,I mean that I would meet with people and talk about their writing and reading. We would read "stage 1" books together and we thought that by reading them we were so cool.  When I spent my time reading, I became aware to the world around me. I learned how different people wrote and how they built their sentences. I had Ms. Baumbach as a teacher and she helped me achieve excellence in spelling. By the end of my second grade year, I had finished the 5th grade spelling curriculum at my school. I had learned many different words and definitions to add to the “intricate” stories that I  was writing at the time. There was a para named Char that taught me tricks and reviewed all of my words with me. At one point, I had gotten a list of words that had parts of speech written on them and I was dumbfounded.

At Discovery Elementary, you have one teacher for your kindergarten to second grade years and one for your third through fifth grade years. When I was in third grade, I had Mrs. Koopman as a teacher. She encouraged people to read more and write a lot.  My most fond memory of my days spent in her classroom was when our class would meet up with the Senior Writers of Buffalo. We always had fun things to talk about and interesting prompts to write poetry about. We would write about the seasons, sports, and even turn newspaper articles into poems. Every time that we would write with the Senior Writers, everyone would choose one poem to publish in our poem books. By the end of the year we had accumulated large poem books that we could share with the world.

When I entered my last year at elementary school, I spent most of my time doing an independent study. This meant that while the rest of my class was in the classroom learning, I was hard at work in the computer lab with two of my other classmates. My teacher had created an ePortfolio for me to share my work on the internet. I had the freedom to learn about whatever I wanted to. I published all of my discoveries on the ePortfolio that I had.This included art projects; for each art project, I would write a poem and display both of them on my website.

Several years had past and I entered my final year at Buffalo Community Middle School. I joined the Quest enrichment program. The English class that I was a part of, challenged me to think beyond anything I had ever experienced. My teacher, Mr. McCallum, taught how to explain my feelings for anything that I wanted to write about and to have support from other resources such as books, people, and  other quotes. This was another year where I wrote in a blog. I  pushed myself and tried to write logical things that struck home to me.

No matter how hard you work at writing though, nobody ever completely masters it. You get good and you work towards perfection. Mastery comes when you are successful  as a writer. Success comes when you sell books, make money, and live happily. If this is what you have achieved in life, then you have mastered writing in a personal sense.

Status of Premature Babies

Premature Babies:
Medical Advancements vs. Nature

    As care for children has been modified throughout our history, we have seen an increase in the number of children that survive the delivery process. We have seen a greater number of children with little likelihood of surviving pull through into adulthood with the help of medical advancements. As the increasing number of prematurely born children reach adulthood, doctors and medical professionals are recognizing certain complications with their survival. Time has shared opposing opinions in whether medical professionals and individual governments should allow for care of children born preterm to be accessible and honorable in society.
In 1880, a French obstetrician named Stephane Tarnier created the incubator. At this time, children were usually born at home and directed into their mothers care. This made mothers the primary care provider for newborn babies under the supervision of a midwife who helped to deliver the child. Families wanted it to be this way because it left the parents in ultimate control of their baby. Because of the fact that infants were born at home with the wishes of the parents as the major controlling factor, children who were born prematurely before the invention of the incubator really did not have a very great chance of survival. In a study done by Tarnier,  he disclosed that the mortality of children that were born weighing between 1200-2000 grams decreased from 66% to 38% when the incubator was introduced.
When the incubator was introduced, it was very difficult to be implemented as a common medical technique to help with the survival of premature children. The use of an incubator was not very popular at the time because the vast majority of deliveries occurred at home. If the incubator were to become the “next big advancement”, it needed to have public support and there would need to be an adjustment of global views regarding the turnover of a mothers sole care to the assistance of a medical professional. This is exactly what Alexandre Lion began to do.
Lion, a French physician, developed a more advanced version of Tarnier’s incubator in the 1890’s. He created an incubator exhibit and took the exhibit to the Berlin Exposition of 1896. The exhibit caught public attention and ended up becoming the hit of the festival. Lion continued to bring the incubator exhibit to other World Fairs and this really spread the overall awareness of the incubator. Thanks to the advertisements at public events, incubators were gaining headway in the medical industry. As the general public became more aware of the increasing amounts of premature birth and that there was now a way to help preemies survive,  it had become apparent that as a society, it was necessary to devote time and money into creating a way to help babies survive past infanthood.
When incubators reached America, Joseph B. DeLee,  an obstetrician from Chicago, Il., opened the first incubator “station” at the Chicago Lying-in Hospital in 1900. He created a transport system to bring struggling babies into the hospital. Despite the failure of the hospital, the systems that he had implemented are still found in todays health systems.
Julius Hess redeveloped DeLee’s ideas of an incubator station and created the first successful station in the 1920’s. Like DeLee, he made advancements to the incubator and implemented a transport system into his station. Unlike anyone before his time, Hess took the time to learn about what nurses had noticed about premature children and their deliveries and then took the time to train them on special procedures relating to infants. Hess decided to continue learning about the effects of being preterm and published “Premature and Congenitally Diseased Infants” which challenged the outlook on premature children. Suddenly, as new medical practices were becoming more available to people everywhere and information was being spread about children being born so young surviving, worldwide views of preterm babies changed from the “weakling” that was sentenced to death, to a “child” with a chance of survival.
As the opinions surrounding a preterm baby began to change, the concepts surrounding children born in the hospital became more popular and well known. The number of children born in hospitals not only increased because of the change in ideals that accepted medical professionals to assist in the care for their newborn, but as the American Medical Association (founded in 1847) began to be more persistent in the promotion of the overall well being of infants, our government began to develop and pass laws requiring a more strict emphasis on who could practice medicine. These laws limited the number of midwives available to mothers who were expecting. The decrease in number of available midwives caused mothers to turn to the hospital system to deliver their children. The general public was also influenced by educated medical professionals such as Joseph DeLee who wrote articles and spread information about their opinions on the lack of education of a midwife and informed society about the importance of medicine. As the number of children delivered in hospitals increased, more techniques were created to ensure the livelihood of children. Hospitals and infant wards were becoming more available to all families and were supported by the general public.
As doctors and nurses began to deliver infants, they noticed that a large number of the preterm babies faced respiratory issues and developed several techniques to increase their chances of survival. These techniques included the introduction of oxygen therapy and surfactant treatment to help with respiratory illnesses. Nearly 25% of all children born prematurely face one common chronic lung disease called bronchopulmonary dysplasia, this condition is one of many respiratory illnesses prominent in premature births.
Today, we are seeing direct effects of the decision to develop techniques to help more children reach their reproductive ages. We have seen the infant mortality rate drop from nearly 100 deaths/thousand births in 1915 to a slim 6 deaths/1000 births in 2014 in the United States. As medical advancements have increased the number of survivors, we have then seen more issues arising as preterm children reach adulthood.
As babies that were born extremely preterm have reached adulthood, researchers have come to the realization that they are at an increased likelihood for many different illnesses and disorders as a consequence of their early birth. In a study done by the National Institute of Health regarding children born preterm that have reached age 12 (born between 1989-1992), concluded that babies born preterm have an average lower IQ score of 6-14 points lower than full term children. They also concluded that preterm children require more school services (para assistance, special classes, more individualized studies). 76% of 12 year olds that were extremely preterm required school services,  comparatively, 44% of preterm 12 year olds required some sort of school service and 16% of full term 12 year olds required a specialized school service.
    Not only may the rising number of preterm infants impact the number of school service workers, but as children born prematurely have reached school age, we have seen a rise in diagnosed ADHD. In a study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, they claimed that “the risk for ADHD was doubled for children born at 23-28 weeks gestation”. The study also provided information that noted that infants born small for gestational age were also at an increased risk of ADHD.
Children born preterm are not only at a greater risk for ADHD and the increased use of school services, but they also are more susceptible to educational disabilities and poorer physical conditions. In a study published by Science Direct in “Seminars in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine”, they concluded that fewer very low birth weight children (<1.5kg at birth) had lesser educational achievement. They found that 23% of very low birth rate children had some sort of college degree compared to 58% of normal birth weight children in the United Kingdom. Low birth weight children were also at a greater risk for internalizing problems such as depression or anxiety. Maureen Hack, author of the paper, reported that “Parents of very low birth weight women tended to agree with the internalizing symptoms reported by their daughters in that they reported significantly more anxious/depressed and withdrawn problems than parents of normal birth weight control women.”  Children born with low birth weight were also susceptible to higher blood pressure, and poorer respiratory function. Very low birth weight subjects had a higher mean systolic blood pressure at 114 mmhg compared to normal birth weight subjects at 112 mmhg. Cooke, a doctor researching in this case found that “more very low birth weight subjects were taking a regularly prescribed medication, most commonly for asthma”, he also found that 8% of the very low birth weight children studied had asthma compared to 6% of normal birth weight children.
    Today, countries around the globe are looking for ways to reach a medium in saving children but decreasing the amounts of disability in children reaching adolescence. The Nuffield Council for Bioethics provided ‘guidelines’ around the treatment and survival of children born at different stages of development. They suggested that babies under 23 weeks of gestational age should not be resuscitated unless the parents and clinician agree that it is in the best interest of the child to do so. We have also seen changes in America with the utilization of Obamacare. The intention of Obamacare was to make healthcare more affordable and accessible but we are seeing that for some of the most vital treatments of care for premature infants such as hospitalization and complete usage of medical technology for certain illnesses like Respiratory Syncytial Virus are being put aside and not being fully treated because they are too costly to insurance providers.
    As of right now, the way that governments across the world are acting around the issue of premature birth seems to be different than the opinion of citizens. In a poll organized by debate.org, it was found that 68% of responses suggest that premature infants of all ages should be given all of the resources to survive, one of the respondents suggested that, “It's presumptuous to assume that, simply because the outcome looks bleak, doctors and parents should just immediately give up on premature babies.” On the other hand, 38% of respondents suggested that children born before 23 weeks gestational age should not be given medical treatment, one person came to the conclusion that “Virtually all babies born before 23 weeks will be severely mentally and/or physically disabled and would have pretty much no chance of ever being productive members of society.”
    Throughout our history as a global community, medical advancements have increased the survival rate of children who are born prematurely and children with a medical disability. With this increase, we have seen an increasing number of children with lifelong setbacks including a lower IQ score, an increased use of a school para, a greater risk of higher blood pressure and respiratory illness, and a greater risk of ADHD. Currently, we are seeing changes in opinion on the way that our government is acting on premature births and the public opinion. These newfound increases and changes to medical treatment have the capability to impact families across the world.
Source Analysis 1:
Source: Luu, Thuy Mai, et al. "Lasting effects of preterm birth and neonatal brain hemorrhage at 12 years of age." Pediatrics 123.3 (2009): 1037-1044.
Media Type: Online/ non-print
Target Audience: Medical professionals looking for information regarding premature neurological disabilities
Credibility: Authors had either MD’s, MPH’s, or MS’s.
Author’s Viewpoint: Premature children born in the 1990’s with a brain injury, faced significant neurological deficits which led to the increase in school services of children at 12 years of age.

Source Analysis 2:
Source:Stark, Ann R., et al. "Adverse effects of early dexamethasone treatment in extremely-low-birth-weight infants." New England Journal of Medicine 344.2 (2001): 95-101.
Media Type: Online
Target Audience: Scientists looking for new treatment/adjustments to current plan of treatments regarding Dexamethasone treatments
Credibility: Medical Doctors conducted experiment and published their findings
Author’s Viewpoint: Premature children between 501-1000g are at a higher risk of chronic lung disease if the dosage is improper. Their studies show that: a 10 day tapered course of action will decrease this risk although this will increase gastrointestinal issues.

Source Analysis 3:
Source: Lindström, Karolina, Frank Lindblad, and Anders Hjern. "Preterm birth and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in schoolchildren." Pediatrics 127.5 (2011): 858-865.
Media Type: Online and in print
Target Audience: Parents, neonatal doctors and pharmacists looking to solve the ADHD “puzzle” and to learn new techniques to decrease the number of children diagnosed with ADHD.
Credibility: Authors/Contributors had MD’s as well as PhD.’s
Author’s Viewpoint: Preterm birth increases the risk of ADHD.They believe that more attention must be spent on advancement of care towards infants born prematurely.

Source Analysis 4:
Source: Hack, Maureen. "Young adult outcomes of very-low-birth-weight children."Seminars in fetal and Neonatal Medicine. Vol. 11. No. 2. WB Saunders, 2006.
Media Type: Online and print
Target Audience: Neonatal doctors, bioethicists, and parents searching for the outcomes of children born prematurely.
Credibility: Author is a part of the Division of Neonatology at the Rainbow Babies and Children Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio.
Author’s Viewpoint: Children born prematurely may have poor educational achievement, fewer continue education past high-school, have a higher mean blood pressure, poorer respiratory function, are at greater risk of anxiety and depression, have lower rates of risk taking, and may be less sexually active than those that were born at term.

Source Analysis 5:
Source: Reedy, Elizabeth A. "Care of Premature Infants." Care of Premature Infants. University of Pennsylvania: School of Nursing, n.d. Web. 01 Mar. 2015. <http://www.nursing.upenn.edu/nhhc/Pages/CareofPrematureInfants.aspx>.
Media Type: Online
Target Audience: Historians and medical professionals with an interest in the history of neonatal care and medical advancements regarding premature babies.
Credibility: Author holds a Phd. and is also a faculty member at Immaculata University
Author’s Viewpoint: As we began to recognize that there were increasing numbers of prematurely born children, the general public demanded energy to be spent on developing medical treatments for the children. These specific treatments have shown great advancements to neonatal medicine but have stirred controversy over the treatment of children and the chance of death that resides in saving premature infants.

Source Analysis 6:
Source: Baker, Jeffrey P. "The Incubator and the Medical Discovery of the Premature Infant." Journal of Perinatology 5 (2000): 321-28. Nature America Inc. Web. 3 Mar. 2015. <http://neonatology.org/pdf/7200377a.pdf>.
Media Type: Online and in Print
Target Audience: Historians and specialists such as an urban planner or an entrepreneur interested in the innovations that have lead to modern medical technology and systematics.
Credibility: Author has both a MD and a PhD.
Author’s Viewpoint: As time has passed, we have seen many innovations that have benefit the life of humans including the introduction of industrialized medical technology.


A Sisterhood of Bank Tellers:
An Ethnography of Farmer’s State Bank of Hamel: Corcoran

I.  Preface (Leighton)
    Due to the popularity of banking across America, most citizens understand the basic concepts behind the system; however, few know the intricate obligations (me included) of the people who handle their money. Maggie and I will be discovering the culture found behind the scenes of the Farmers State Bank of Hamel located in Corcoran through our broker Denise, who works at the bank.
The particular group Maggie and I are studying is four female bank tellers who compose the staff at the Farmers State Bank of Hamel Corcoran location. From what I am aware, bank tellers only operate basic functions of handling money like checking account balances and serving as receptionists. These bank tellers can be categorized as a subculture due to their relationship to the bank and the fact that only four employees work there. This interesting dynamic is the reason I chose to study this subculture.
Although the four are without a doubt participants for a job, it is obvious that they have stayed for much more than a paycheck. I believe this because, at a national average salary of $24,000 a year (Teller Salaries), bank tellers are not on the “high end” of the pay scale. In addition, without extra education, there is very little room to be promoted as a bank teller.  Based on my prior knowledge, I expect that the ladies have stuck around for the friendships they have made.
I anticipate seeing the four cohorts engaged in stereotypical female actions: gossipping during the lunch hour, complaining about their husbands, and overdramatizing the chaos of their family lives. In addition to the assumptions I have about verbal communications, I expect family photos like Christmas cards to be strung across the walls to serve as a reminder of their lives at home.
Hopefully, as I leave the bank, I will have a new appreciation for a group of individuals who provide service for many citizens in my local area. I hope to find they thoroughly enjoy their job. Personally, I cannot imagine holding a single job that I presume pays hourly, for my entire career.
I. Preface (Maggie)
I am a quiet, 17-year-old girl from the small town of Corcoran. Even though I have lived in this town my entire life, I have never stepped foot in one of the central locations of my town, the local Farmer’s State Bank. This is one of the reasons I chose to do my ethnography on this subculture.  I think it will be interesting to see a side of the town I live in that I was not aware of before. I hope to learn more about my community and what makes it thrive.
My neighbor, Denise, just so happens to be one of the four employees who works at this bank, and she is our broker for this project. Knowing one of the employees and being from this town makes me feel a little more comfortable about doing my observations. I do not personally go to Farmer's State Bank, but have driven by it many times.
From my prior knowledge, I am aware that all the workers are female and in their late 40s to early 50s. Since the bank is located in a small town, and one of only two locations, I am expecting the attraction of banking there to be the customer relationships. It has the “local-business” appeal. I expect that all the employees will know their customers really well, and that their customers have been banking there for quite some time. I also know that most of the employees have worked there for over 10 years. I believe the workers have continued to work there after many years because of the relationships and connections they have through this job.
I expect there to be a lot of interaction between them, mainly talking about the latest news around town and within their families. Therefore, I anticipate them being a tight knit group, but still very welcoming and helpful. The employees will probably be dressed formally and will be wearing name tags. They most likely will be sitting behind a tall counter, either interacting with customers or working on their computers. I don’t think the tellers will be doing anything too exciting, but overall I am looking forward to visiting The Farmer’s State Bank of Hamel in Corcoran.

II. Background
Nestled in a cornfield twenty miles from the heart of downtown Minneapolis at the intersection of County Road 116 and 10, is a bank known for their connection to the community of Corcoran, Minnesota. The bank itself is one of two banks in its branch; its sister bank is located 4.2 miles away in Hamel, Minnesota. Officially, both banks are called “Farmer’s State Bank of Hamel.”
The business was founded on September 8th, 1919 by Louie Dorweiler. The following month Louie’s brother, Harry, joined him after his farming career ended as a result of two accidents. The two brothers set on the mission of serving the rural community’s banking needs as the only bank in town. They have passed this commitment down to their children and grandchildren. The Farmer’s State Bank is currently managed by the fourth generation of Dorweiler’s who work at the Hamel location. Although the bank expanded to Corcoran in 1982, the goal has stayed the same: to be “Always at your service…all ways.” (History)
Corcoran has a population of approximately 5,000 people; Farmers State Bank of Hamel is the only bank inside the city limits. Employees aim to keep this bank a local keystone by using a few unique methods to serve its customers: they allow customers to drop checks into a bin for next day checking after hours; they open their drive thru before and after the normal work day; and they only have four employees total.
Three of the four tellers, Denise, Mickey, and Nancy, have worked at the bank for ten plus years. Diana, the fourth employee, has worked there for three years. The four work together to meet the needs of their customers by operating all aspects of the bank without the presence of their CEO, who works at the Hamel location. These operations include running the drive through, depositing checks, withdrawing money, and opening new accounts. The bank not only strives to serve their local community through its banking needs, but also through sponsoring and helping out at the local events such as The Hamel Rodeo and  Corcoran Country Days.
This bank has a strong foothold in tradition. For example, their mission statement has been untouched:
“We strive to support our communities, remembering that they are the sole reason for our success, to build lasting, long term relationships with our customers, treating them as the friends they truly are, and to remember who we are, what we are, and how we got there. Finally, to build and maintain a steady, long term staff (which we call our bank “family”), that is courteous, knowledgeable, and friendly.” (History)

While still remaining rooted in tradition, the bank has thrived throughout the years by modifying its practices and adapting to advancements in technology. They have added an ATM machine, online banking, and e-statements to accommodate the needs of an advancing society. The bank has expanded its assets by modifying practices to meet the needs of customers to stay in business.
III. Observations
    The clear, crisp morning represented the town of Corcoran almost perfectly. The small farming community contained two bars, one church, a liquor store, a Napa Auto Parts, and a greenhouse in addition to the bank. Beyond the town, the petite bank was part of a small strip mall positioned in the middle of a cornfield. Farmers State Bank of Hamel, written in red, stood out against the bland, tan color of the building, It’s color was just as we were expecting the day to be; boring.
    Inside the bank, the tan colored walls were covered in outdated western decor. Dream catchers engrossed with beads and animal fur along with various cowboy paintings covered the walls. In one such painting, a cowboy in a white hat with chapps rode on the back of a sorrel pony through the mountains and pine trees in the rain. Surrounding each cubicle and the vault, was outdated wood paneling that had not changed since its opening because “[it] has everything to do with Shortie [the CEO] being the bull-rider he is.” In addition, an American flag stood proudly in the front window visible to anyone pulling into the parking lot or entering the building - a clear sign of the pride they have for their country.
On the right side of the entryway were awards and graphs of the bank's assets along with black and white pictures of the bank’s founders from its opening day in 1919. The hum of K102, a local country music station, played continuously over the speakers of the radio to offset the silence in the bank. Occasionally, we heard a soft voice sing along with the radio.
    The first person who sang out was Diana, the only person with long hair in the office. Her teller booth is immediately to the left of the entrance, and instead of sitting in a chair, she stood against her desk surrounded by pictures of her grandchildren. To the left of her cubicle was Nancy, who, even with her short grey hair, appeared to be the youngest teller. She had worked at the bank for 30 years. Next to her is Mickey, a proud grandma and the oldest of the group, who had worked there for 14 years. She asked Nancy if she would like “to look at the coupons from the Sunday paper”. Nancy responded “Nah, I can’t afford any of it,” but eventually both of them peeked through the booklet, as they usually do.
After coming across an article on Hurricane Matthew, a conversation spurred regarding Diana’s brother who lived on the gulf-coast of Florida. “It was a relief to finally hear from him and find out he was fine,” said Diana. Her co-workers also contributed to her sense of relief. “That’s what’s nice about these guys [her co-workers] they’re good at listening and calming me down. Especially Denise.” Because of the others’ trust in Denise, it was obvious that she was the leader of the group. It was also evident by her position as Branch Manager, a bank teller with the responsibility of final approvals on official paperwork, and by her constructive influence on the other employees throughout her 27 years at the bank.
    It was hard to deny that the relationship between the four bank tellers was special. “We’re so close we’re like sisters almost, we do more laughing here than at any bank,” said Diana. “They’re my sisters, and I feel comfortable to share [personal issues] with them.” We had anticipated that they would be a tight knit group, but we were expecting close friends rather than ‘almost’ sisters. “Yeah, pretty much,” agreed Mickey, the soft-spoken sweetheart who we often observed walking around in her socks - evidence of the casual tone of the office. “We’re not all that far apart in age so we all get along pretty well.”
    Suddenly, they were interrupted by a customer walking in the door. Each teller took their turn saying:
“Hi, Wayne.”
“Hi, Wayne.”
    “Hi, Wayne.”
Exactly as we had presumed, the three (Diana, Nancy, and Mickey) engaged in smalltalk with Wayne about the weather. In midst of their conversation,  Nancy asked him if he wanted “smalls or bigs”, a friendly term for  $20 bills or $100 bills. After he was helped, he exited the building and the door clanked shut behind him. Until the next customer arrived, the only noise to be heard in the bank was the sound of the radio with the occasional buzz of the bill counting machine.
At 9 AM, a bell, like that on an elevator, dinged interrupting the silence. When they recognized the customer pulling through the drive thru window, the three approached the service desk and asked about the customer’s dad. “I had to go to the bank. The meat raffle is tomorrow,” he said. The three laughed in response and returned to their business. From their friendly interaction, it was obvious that they knew the customer well, just as we had anticipated. “Oh that guy. He’s such a riot and his dad is full of the devil,” Denise said chuckling. According to her, this customer's dad had become a Saturday regular at the meat raffles and even had his own designated chair.  “It’s little funny stories like that, that make it [working at the bank] worth it.”
It was not just Wayne and the meat raffle customer that they knew well; it was all of them. “It certainly isn’t the pay [why Denise stays]. The customers make it special for me; our customers aren’t just customers, they’re family,” said Denise heartfully. Not only were the relationships important to the employees, but they were also valued by the customers. “When we meet a new customer we tell them we’ll get to know them,” said Denise. “We only know what they tell us, yet they end up telling us their life stories.” It was evident that customers shared more personal information with the bank teller’s than at an average bank. “We’ve heard everything from births of grandchildren to relatives passing and going into accounts and how much money they have,” said Mickey. “It’s one extreme to another. I tend to think it’s more personal things they’ll talk or vent to us about.”
At 10:35, Angie, an older customer with dyed, red, frayed hair walked in with her hands full of gifts. She placed a bag of candies at each cubicle and stated, “I have one for each of my gals.” This was not the only time in the day they received a gift for their service, an obvious example of their importance to the community. Earlier, a customer brought cinnamon rolls to the office to thank them for their help with the local rodeo. “We are so spoiled. They look to us for advice and are so generous, it’s almost embarrassing,” explained Denise. “We have one client who brings us goodie bags for every holiday. If it’s on the calendar she brings us something.”
    Denise, Diana, Mickey, and Nancy play a major role in their community. Their customers value them beyond their job title. “You guys are family to me, that’s why I come here,”  One customer said without being prompted as he grabbed a piece of candy from a bowl on the teller’s counter. “We have been coming here for thirty some years.”
Although the bank was small, it had a large impact not only on the citizens of Corcoran, but on the events held in the area. This can be proven by their involvement in their local rodeo. “The owner of the banks are bull riders who started the Hamel Rodeo. [...] Farmers State Bank of Hamel is a large part of it because they’re the starters [of the rodeo],” said Diana. Later that day she explained to a customer that the works such as designing T-Shirts and finding sponsors were already underway for the rodeo in July. There seemed to be an expectation to participate in this event, evident by the group working on rodeo responsibilities in addition to their banking responsibilities throughout the day. This commitment has helped make the Hamel Rodeo the largest rodeo in the state of Minnesota.
This rural, rodeo theme seemed to be reflected in their customers. The majority of people who entered the bank fit a similar mold; older men who wore cowboy boots, worn wrangler jeans, a baggy sweatshirt and a ball cap. So, when a customer in a business suit walked in, his apparel made him stand out with an aura of importance. He approached Nancy, the longest working employee at the time, and asked to see her alone in the back room, which was the first time this had happened all day. This was a breach of accepted behavior as it was a ritual for most customers to only be served at the front desk.  “It could be because they’re [the businessman was] embarrassed and don’t want anybody to hear,” suggested Mickey.
Throughout the day, every customer, including the businessman received service from whomever they selected. Most customers preferred to be served by Nancy who had worked at the bank much longer than Diana. “There are customers who prefer to go to Denise or Nancy. I’m fine with that. It’s their preference. Things take time,” said Diana. Although customers paid more attention to the other tellers, Diana hasn’t refused to let it stop her from learning about her customers. “I once called a customer by his name and he said ‘you know my name?’” Her drive to learn about the bank’s customers emphasized the value of relationships to the tellers.
As it neared the end of our observation and closing time of the bank, the ladies engaged in the daily procedure of “balancing the drawers”. During this chaotic fifteen minutes, the tellers worked together to solve the issue of the night; the vault was short and their drawers were long. This meant there was not enough money in the vault and there was too much money in each teller’s cubicle. To solve this issue, they recounted all of the money, including the coins, to figure out where they were off - a tell tale sign that they did this procedure to monitor the security of their assets.
As we walked out the door following our observation, we could hear the ladies engaged in conversation as well as their wishes for us to have safe travels. The bank is truly a family and after spending only six hours with the group, we almost felt a part of it.
VI. Conclusion
Relationships guide us through our lives, and as social beings, it is only fit for us to share our history and issues with others. Farmers State Bank of Hamel in Corcoran fosters this need as it provides its employees with an environment where employees are members for the majority of their career, and they love it. “I love the community [of Corcoran and the bank],” said Diana. “It has always been roots to me.” These ladies were each other's best friends and trusted one another with the drama in their personal lives, including the chaos within their family. Each of the tellers had their own identity; however; they shared many values such as the value of family, importance of customers, and the importance of community. Although it seemed strange that bonds like the tellers could be developed through a workplace, it is refreshing to know there is a place where this human quality is appreciated in the businessworld
Aside from their developed relationships, the four have a job that is much more important than we were expecting. Together, they provided a service beyond handling money and maintaining the assets of the bank. Like one customer said to them “you’re [the bank is] my family”, the group has developed roots in the community which are appreciated by the people they serve. Working at the bank is more than a job to this group. Their prominence in the community is an underlying rule of the business that nobody complains about. Instead they have embraced it and utilized their individual skills to improve the outcome of events like the rodeo.
Their commitment to the community extends beyond their volunteer work however. To our surprise, they spoke very infrequently about others in a negative manner. In fact, they encouraged each other to see beyond an individual's status. By their impeccable knowledge of their customers, it was remarkable that after an individual left, they didn’t speak negatively about them, rather they went on with their business.
As people, it is important to discover places where people genuinely care for others, especially as technology has decreased our interactions with each other. To this group, their service to the community and to one another is an example of how much we, as individuals, can provide for others. As humans, this quality and action needs to be utilized more frequently, regardless of personal reward, including money. Farmers State Bank of Hamel and the ladies in it stood as a reminder of how to live in a way that makes the world better. By simply smiling, providing undivided attention, and being thoughtful around their customers, the four tellers exemplified this way of life and because of this, the bank will continue to thrive into the future. Farmers State Bank of Hamel provided this quality to their customers in many ways, just as their motto says,  “Always at your service…all ways.”

Denise. Personal Interview. 12 Oct. 2016.
Diana. Personal Interview. 28 Oct. 2016.
“History and Mission.” 2016. secure.fsboh.com/Pages/historyandmission.html. Accessed: 8 Oct. 2016.
Mickey. Personal Interview. 28 Oct. 2016.
“Teller Salaries.” www.simplyhired.com/salaries-k-bank-teller-jobs.html. Accessed: 10 Oct. 2016.