Moving On From Baltimore

After 2 years in Baltimore, I recently made the move to Chicago, IL.


July 28, 2023

2 years ago, I sent out a post around the time I graduated from college. I wrote about my gratitude for my time in Oregon, my excitement to start a PhD program in Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins, and the joy of raising my then-very-young dog, Millie. Soon after, in summer 2021, I made the road trip to Baltimore, MD.

My time in Baltimore didn’t go as expected. Coming out of my first semester, after a tough housing situation, a new medical condition to come to terms with, and disillusion with the program at Hopkins, I decided to take a year of leave to get my feet under me. Leaving the program and forfeiting my NSF Graduate Research Fellowship felt like both a great loss and a huge risk; I invested a lot of time and energy and ego into the pursuit of becoming a “statistician,” and had been quite lucky while doing so, and I wasn’t sure what work-life looked like after letting that go.

A few months later, I started full-time on the tidymodels team at RStudio (soon-to-be Posit). I had interned and contracted with the team before, and landing the gig felt too good to be true. The work felt a lot better to me and, at the end of 2022, I decided to officially drop out of the PhD program at Hopkins. I’m grateful to feel well-supported in my development as a statistical thinker and tool builder at Posit, and to really believe in what we’re making together.

I often feel like I’m supposed to think of my time at Hopkins as a failure. It was surely not the place for me. At the same time, if I hadn’t tried it, I would definitely be wondering around this time, a couple years after graduating, whether I ought to pursue that path; I feel like my time in the PhD program was a success in that I now know much better what I do—and do not—want. I also met life-long friends, got to check out a lot of the US Northeast, and found a wonderful partner.

A couple months ago, I tagged along with that partner in moving to Chicago, IL. It’s greener, it’s easier to get around, the weather has been awesome1, and Millie has a big-ass park to run around in. I like it here.

I’ll end this one the same way that I ended that post two years ago:

So thankful for the people that have made this all possible for me. Money, trust, encouragement, opportunity, you name it—I’ve often felt that I’m the recipient of so much that I feel that I don’t deserve, and this all is no exception. Trying to do my best with it.

Things are so different now.

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  1. It will get really fucking cold. I know. :)↩︎