Thank You

As I await my flight back home in the Denver airport, I cannot help but express my gratitude to those who have made my summer one that I will never forget.

First I want to thank Logan Moeller, who happened to tell me about a program called Students with Diabetes on my way to class one day last fall.  Not only have you shown me this opportunity, but you are one who understands what it’s like to live with a disease like diabetes.  I’m so thankful for our friendship.  After all, if you weren’t around, who else would I make jokes about diabetes with?

I want to thank those at Students with Diabetes for their wonderful program, specifically John Swantson and Nicole Johnson.  The work that you do every day cannot go without recognition.  I am forever grateful for what your program has done in my life.

To my family and friends, thank you for your love and support.  In the toughest moments in Seattle, you were there to give me a call and show me that I mattered.  I have never felt so loved.  I cannot imagine what my parents went through sending their daughter to be alone for ten weeks in a city I’ve never been to over 1,600 miles away.  I would not be the woman I am today without your guidance.

Finally, to my corporate family at Novo Nordisk, I thank you for the most incredible ten weeks of my life.  Jill Miller, thank you for sorting through thousands of applications to find me one of about fifty positions.  Joe and PV, thank you for what you taught me as part of the diabetic complications team.  You not only gave me great insight on the science behind what you do, but you also took the time to make sure that I felt at home while I was in Seattle.  And to Mark, words can hardly express my gratitude for all that you have done as my mentor.  You went above and beyond your job description, whether it was taking me to Mt. St. Helens or the frequent rides around the city.  I hope that your life isn’t too dreary without me!

As I see it, life is more than where you are; it’s who you are surrounded with.  I know that God has placed some of the most incredible people in my life.  To you all, thank you.

Sincerely,

Ashley

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Day Forty Five – A Final Farewell

I ran across the street to make the bus one last time.  With the rain misting around me, I got off and looked around in the few blocks to behold the city that will forever hold a special place in my heart.  I met another coworker on my way up the five flights of stairs and chatted with him before parting ways.

It’s always a strange thing to say goodbye.  Days go by where you don’t realize how dear even the smallest of things are to you until they are gone.  I grabbed by cell phone and took some pictures of the workplace that I meant to take ten weeks ago.  Better late than never, I suppose!

I met with Mark to go over all of the data that I collected.  I showed him where everything was located and clarified anything that he found confusing.  After the meeting, I made a few changes that Mark suggested and saved them under a file that the team can use in the future.

All of the interns and our mentors went out to eat for lunch at Cuoco, an Italian restaurant nearby.  It couldn’t have been a better time.  I got to chat with both of the interns, and I found out what their plans were for the next few months.

It wasn’t long until it was time for dessert back at the office.  Before then, Mark asked me to come into PV’s office.  I saw Joe, PV, and Mark, waiting with a gift so I ran back to grab my gifts for them.  Seattleites love coffee and their Seahawks, and so I got each of them a Seattle Seahawks coffee mug with a thank you note.  For Mark, I also gave him a gift card to Ivar’s, the restaurant he treated my mom and me to when I first arrived in the city.  I received a thank you note, a University of Washington basketball shirt, and some art.  The artwork is titled Searing Salmon.  Mark read its description:  The salmon are determined, persistent, and will not give up until they reach their goal.  He looked up and said something along the lines of, We couldn’t think of a better way to describe you. 

“Spawning Salmon” by Marvin Oliver. My new favorite piece of art.

We walked down to the café and began digging into the delicious Danish pastries PV bought for the interns.  My favorite was kringle which, like many Danish words, sounds quite different than you’d think.  All of the interns were given coffee mugs and a few other small items with Novo Nordisk’s logo.  We all began chatting about this and that.  For a while, we discussed cricket.  An Australian coworker, PV, and Mark (whose native countries are all in some big cricket tournament) started making jokes about the each other’s teams while the rest of us laughed with no idea what was going on.  A sense of belonging filled my heart when I was around these people.  They had become my corporate family; people who will I will treasure for the rest of my life.

I went back to my desk for the very last time and packed up my belongings.  Mark must’ve read my thank you note before I came into his office because he seemed a little choked up.  We discussed what time he’d meet me at my apartment before taking me to the airport tomorrow morning and before I knew it, I was leaving 530 Fairview Avenue North for the very last time.  I glanced back with tears in my eyes to have one final look at the place that not only impacted my summer, but changed my life forever.  With Taylor Swift’s album in my ears, I looked ahead the busy street and continued moving forward, realizing how blessed I was to spend my summer in Seattle.

Iowa, here I come,

Ashley

Day Forty Five – Presentations on Presentations

I woke up five minutes before I was going to tune into the online meeting with our diabetic complications unit and the diabetic complications focus group in Denmark.  At 6:00AM, the team had already met for two hours and now was the time to watch as Mark presented all that I’ve done in the ten weeks at Novo Nordisk.

Shot of one of the slides from the presentation this morning.  Mark explained to Denmark colleagues about who I am and what I worked on during my internship.

Shot of one of the slides from the presentation this morning. Mark explained to Denmark colleagues about who I am and what I worked on during my internship.

The meeting went quite well.  I was actually contacted by Marie, who was at the meeting and works with compiling data.  She was hoping to do a teleconference with me, but I had to let her know that tomorrow is my last day.  Maybe I’ll be able to contact her when I’m back in Iowa.

After hopping off the bus and climbing the same five flights of stairs, I got to work with my presentation that would occur this afternoon.  I went through the slides and then met with Mark to practice.  He had a few remarks, and I found it very helpful to practice before this afternoon.  I continued to work on this until 12:45 came and Mark grabbed me to go downstairs to the café, where the presentations by all three interns would take place.

We got down there and the other two had already determined the order.  I was relieved when they said I would go last, where I hoped to go anyways.  I like closing presentations so that I have an idea of what others have done.  I don’t remember what the other interns did, because I kept reading through my notes.  The café was packed.  I was quite nervous and ran out of water.

I walked up with a very dry mouth and listened as Mark introduced me to the entire NNRC staff.  I think it went very well overall.  The staff laughed a lot at an analogy Mark made for me, that went along the following lines.  The pathway analysis tool we used was like buying an album on Amazon.  If I’d buy Taylor Swift’s 1989 album, they would recommend buying Ed Sheeran’s latest album.  Mark had to interject and say that he said Tom Jones instead of Taylor Swift, but I wasn’t familiar with that artist so I had to switch it up a bit.

Asha, who is in charge of the protein engineering unit, came up after my presentation and praised me for how I did.  She is at the same level as PV, and so I was humbled to have her take the time to speak with me.  I went upstairs and had another staff member, Jason, complement my presentation.  I couldn’t get over how great of I company I worked for here.  They make it difficult to say goodbye.

I asked Mark what my next task would be, as I had already started to reorganize all of the data I had on file.  He came over and chatted for a little while until he finally suggested that I take the rest of the afternoon off.  I was shocked, to be honest, and had to ask if he was serious.  He was, and I got to have additional time to see the city and pack my bags, which I have been putting off for awhile.  I guess I should start that now…

Best regards,

Ashley

Day Forty Four – Gratitude

I got a chance to sit down on the bus this morning, which a very rare treat!  On the positive note, I walked in and began working on where I left off on Monday.  With my intern presentation tomorrow, I had a lot to work on for the entire day.  Mark helped me prepare my slides and gave me some useful insights on other information I should include in my PowerPoint slides.

Lunch was sub-par with overdone salmon and chewy vegetables.  I’m not much of a complainer, especially when it comes to free food, but I was less than thrilled with the quality of the meal today.

I finished the rest of the afternoon by finishing up my slides.  It was tough to write the thank you section of the presentation.  How do you possibly put into words how thankful you are for the impact someone had on your life?  I ran across this issue when I wrote thank you notes for the DC team.  I saved Mark’s for last, and surely enough, tears were streaming down my face by the time I was midway through the note.  I’m sure that was the best thank you note I’ve written, but I still don’t think there was any way that I could portray my gratitude towards Mark, my supervisor.  He truly went above and beyond my expectations, and as a result I was able to accomplish much more than planned during my ten weeks at Novo Nordisk.

Speaking of going above and beyond, Mark and his wife, Katherine, treated me to an Indian restaurant.  PV recommended this one, and it was pretty good!  I’m not big on spicy food, but I enjoyed the variety of food I tried at dinner tonight.  One more thing crossed off the bucket list, I guess!

Sincerely,

Ashley

Day Forty Three – A Good Start

I am not kidding when I say I ran across the street to make the bus this morning.  The driver, bless her heart, saw me and let me in.  If she hadn’t, I would’ve been stuck waiting for at least another 15 minutes for the next bus.  The other bus for this stop was right ahead of the one I got on.  I couldn’t help but think that my final week in Seattle was off to a good start.

After climbing five flights of stairs without gasping for breath, I made my way to my desk and was sad to see that the new building across the street now completely blocked my view of the Space Needle.  I soon got over this disappointment and began making lists for the targets that would be useful for the meeting before lunch.  Mark told me that I would need lists for active and inactive targets, but he didn’t specify which.  I wasn’t in the mood to ask him to clarify on Friday, and so I made about ten spreadsheets for the different possibilities.  I think that puts the count for spreadsheets at over 80.  Yikes.

My meeting with Mark, PV, and Burak (the expert on the software we use to map pathways for drugs and targets) went very well.  The majority of the meeting was spent by PV and Mark asking questions on how they can enter the data that I’ve compiled into the software to get their desired outputs.  There were a few moments where one of the men asked me about a specific spreadsheet, and it took me several moments to decipher which one they meant out of the 80+ I have saved.  I guess that’s what happens when you have way too much information…

Despite my stomach grumbling at 9:30 this morning, I didn’t realize it was time for lunch until it was about 1:00.  This is very untypical of me, and if nothing else, it shows me how much I truly enjoy working at Novo Nordisk!  I lucked out when I went downstairs as there were leftover doughnuts from a top-rated bakery in Seattle.  Without it my lunch of a granola bar and peanut butter sandwich on smooshed bread that expires today would have been a little less complete.  The joys of trying to use every last bit of food before I fly back home are quite overwhelming at times, if you can’t tell.

The rest of my day was spent working on the presentation I’ll give on Wednesday.  I had the hardest time finding a good picture of cornfields in Iowa.  None of the pictures depicted what I had in mind, but I think I have plenty of other pictures to suffice!  It was tough to figure out what to say in 15 minutes about my experiences as an intern for ten weeks.  I did manage to finish most of it, and now all I have to do is finish a slide about why I chose to work at Novo Nordisk and another about the results of my findings.  I’ll be excited when I’m done with this as I’ve never been one to be thrilled by giving presentations.

Until tomorrow,

Ashley

Day Forty Two – Football Friday

It was quite chilly this morning as I headed out the door of my apartment building and made my way to the bus stop.  With my raincoat on, I felt like today might be one of the seldom days I would ever use it in Seattle.  It turns out I was quite right.

At work I was delighted to see zucchini bread in the café.  I have a weakness for homemade breads that is about as strong as my weakness for purses.  The struggle is real.  So after I ate two pieces, I met with Mark to go over the slides that he has prepared for the conference with the Danes.  I discovered that this meeting will take place at either 3:00 or 4:00AM of the day I present my internship presentation to the entire Novo Nordisk Research Center staff.  Next Wednesday will be a very busy day, that’s for sure!

I couldn’t help but notice all of the Seahawks gear as I went about my day.  It seemed that I had missed the memo.  Everyone, from Mark to some of the construction workers outside, appeared to show their Seahawk pride.  I have never gotten into watching the NFL on a regular basis, and so it all made sense why I saw all of the gear when I read the announcement on the TV screen in the café.  The Seahawks were scheduled to play the Bronchos tonight, marking the beginning of football season.  Seattleites suffer through sports seasons until football hits, and the entire city loves to show their support.  It reminded me of high school when guys would yell Football Friday! down the hallways.  I loved those days…

In other news, I was hoping to take some pictures of the lab coats downstairs before I left to go back home.  I didn’t want to be caught capturing them on my cellphone, so I tried my best to go when I thought there wouldn’t be people.  I was unsuccessful both during my lunch break and later in the afternoon.  Additionally, when I made my way to the fourth floor in the afternoon I managed to forget my keycard and was locked in the stairwell.  Somehow, someone was walking out right when I needed to get in so I wasn’t stuck there forever.  That was the last time I attempted to get a picture.  Still no success.

Throughout the workday I couldn’t stop looking outside as it rained steadily the entire day.  There was even lighting and thunder, which reminded me of the storms back home in Iowa.  Mark joked about tornados coming (which never happen here) and told me that I was finally experiencing summer weather in Seattle.  I was done around 3:15 and made my way back to my apartment.  The rain hadn’t let up (and still hasn’t over three hours later) when I walked out of the building.  I saw that the crosswalk was signaling for pedestrians to walk so I walked at an even quicker pace than my usual brisk walk.  As I did, I almost biffed it with the sidewalk being so slick.  Thank goodness I didn’t fall!  After taking the tag off of my rain boots, I made my way to the park by my apartment building and had a fun time making the most of the rain.  I mean, when in Seattle…

Wishing you all a great weekend,

Ashley

Day Forty One – Unfortunate Flights and Sights

I couldn’t have timed my morning any better with the bus schedule.  I walked across the street to see that the bus just pulled up to my stop.  After a short ride and five flights of stairs, I was ready to start my workday.

Overall, today flew by.  Mark gave me plenty of tasks to do, but it was never to the point where I felt overwhelmed.  Before I knew it, I looked at the clock on my desk to see that it was time for lunch.  Waiting in line is usually a hit or a miss for me because you are stuck standing by coworkers until you can grab some food.  I usually either stand staring out the window while some workers that I hardly know are in a deep conversation around me or I am fortunate enough to know the employee and have a brief conversation.  Today was a hit in that I walked down stairs to see Mark at the end of the line.  I chatted with him about my MCAT scores, which will come out in five days.

We sat down at a table and pretty soon our table was filled with a good mix of introverts and extroverts.  The talk of the table began with a guy’s recent food poisoning from a Korean restaurant in the U-district to flight horror stories.  I shared my experience of flight issues on the way here, namely the joy of sleeping on the airport floor.  A lady, Nortso, (whose desk is very close to mine) one-upped me by telling us all about how she ended up sleeping on the airport floor in Reno after a 20 hour flight from Asia.  She said the worst part was that there are lots of slot machines in this airport, and as she tried to get some rest all she could hear were the ringing noises of the machines around her.  Let’s hope I won’t have any issues on my way back home next Friday!

I have walked the mile and a half jaunt after work for the past couple of days now, and I found myself speechless over a few of the sights today.  In the midst of thinking how foolish it was of me to wear a blazer and skinny jeans on a 85 degree day, I looked up to see a woman in her late twenties wearing a swimsuit as she walked down the sidewalk.  Lake Union was only a few blocks away, but the park itself was about half of a mile.  I mean, even if she was going to swim, wouldn’t she bring some sort of cover up?  About four blocks later, still puzzled by the lady in a bathing suit, I saw a man riding his bike.  He looked normal aside from his shorts.  It looked like he grabbed his girlfriend’s pink Nike running shorts when he was leaving for work this morning.  I was so confused.  I guess these sights are part of everyday living here in Seattle!

Adios,

Ashley

Day Forty – An Obstructed View

After my first good night’s sleep in several days, I awoke this morning bright eyed and bushy tailed.  It was amazing how much faster today went compared to yesterday.  I’m really thinking that there’s a lot of truth behind the importance of sleep!

I met with Mark this morning to prepare for our conference call with Denmark next week.  Mark told me that he often gets nervous, and the best way for him to calm his nerves is by being well prepared.  I would say that the feeling is mutual; I definitely share that anxiety with him!  In our conference call next week, we’ll be informing the Danes about all that I’ve done so far and how Novo Nordisk can use the information I’ve collected to help them in the future.  I was given another task by Mark to revise a spreadsheet, and I was finished with that by mid-afternoon.  The remainder of my day was spent looking at trials/drugs that have failed and are no longer on the path to becoming marketed.  Luckily, I have most of the information from earlier.  This time I’ll use this in a more beneficial way for the company by going more in-depth about the opportunities they could aim towards in the next year or so while having more of a high level view of those programs that Novo Nordisk is unlikely to attempt.

Throughout the day today and yesterday, it became quite apparent that we employees on fifth floor of the building will no longer have a view of the Space Needle.  Some made jokes about harassing the construction crew by making signs and such, but today it was sad to look out and no longer see Seattle’s famous landmark.  I took a few pictures, and I even have a picture from my first week to show the difference that has been made in the nine weeks I’ve been in Seattle.

The view from my desk window at Novo Nordisk the on June 15.

The view from my desk window at Novo Nordisk the on June 15.

The last peek of the Space Needle, captured at the beginning of the day today.

The last peek of the Space Needle, captured at the beginning of the day today.

The progress made by the end of the day today.  Nine weeks ago, there was only the concrete column.

The progress made by the end of the day today. Nine weeks ago, there was only the concrete column.

So long,

Ashley

Day Thirty Nine – If Only

I reached the top of the five flights of stairs at Novo Nordisk slightly less out of breath than yesterday.  After grabbing my usual cup of water, I got to work at my desk.  I ended up working the entire day on the same task.  The last several nights I have had trouble falling asleep.  I think I’m averaging falling asleep at 1:00AM and waking up at 7:00AM.  Yesterday I wasn’t bothered by my lack of sleep, but today it sure caught up with me.  To use an analogy, it felt like yesterday moved like Usain Bolt running downhill and today moved like me crawling uphill.  It was rough.

Lunch was pretty good today, but it had very few carbs.  It was quite unfortunate because my blood sugar was rather low, but thankfully, there were cookies.  The lunch staff’s sweets certainly came in clutch for this diabetic!

Next week I’ll get up at 3 or 4 in the morning to have a conference with the headquarters in Denmark.  To prepare, Mark tried to find a picture of my college for the PowerPoint presentation.  I received an email from him with a link to Central’s webpage.  The link was for a student whose dream was to drive the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile, and she finally got the opportunity to do that for her work.  After a few jokes from Mark, I let him know that if he needs a picture of me at Central there’s my student profile on the admissions page.  He must’ve read through it because he emailed me back a witty comment like, Very nice. Now if only you had been born in the Wienermobile… and continued to tell me how much the Danes love hot dogs.  If only…

I’m hoping that tomorrow doesn’t quite drag as much, but regardless I know that I’m truly having a great time here in Seattle.  God has certainly given me more than I could’ve ever imagined this summer.

Thankful,

Ashley

Day Thirty Eight – Catching Up

Look back on my day, I can’t complain how it turned out (especially for a Monday)!  I hopped on the faster bus to work with no issues, and after climbing five flights of stairs I was out of breath and ready for work to begin.  I ended up working almost 9 hours, but it truly flew by so quickly that I hardly noticed.  I’d say that is a good indication that I enjoy what I’m doing!

After a quick ten minute lunch that consisted of a smooshed peanut butter sandwich and a granola bar, I prepared for my meeting with Mark this afternoon.  We definitely had a lot of catching up to do since he had been on vacation for the past week.  It was good to hear his sarcastic remarks once again, something I’ve grown to appreciate about working at Novo Nordisk each day.  We discussed everything that I’ve worked on with no issues, and I will continue working along the same area for the next few days.  He mentioned that we need to start thinking about how to present all of this information to the staff in ten days, and I quickly realized how soon that day will come.

On a personal note, I had a great time at the Taylor Swift concert this weekend.  I’ve been a fan of her music since 2007, yes even in her country days, and so I had very high expectations for my very first concert.  From memorizing every lyric of every song to even doing a report on her in 8th grade, I guess it is no surprise that she is my favorite singer/songwriter.  To say I was blown away by every aspect of the concert is an understatement, but what I found the most surprising was her character.  Taylor never stopped saying how grateful she was and even encouraged the 60,000 in attendance to be ourselves and pursue our dreams, no matter how crazy they seem.  She’s a remarkable individual with a sincere and kind heart, and I believe that she deserves every bit of success God has given her.

Sorry for that long rant,

Ashley