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So I’m working my way through the semester, minding my own business…and boom! Out of nowhere, my Bio professor decides to send me an email that illuminates a pretty interesting path to my current goal and gives me some pretty good ideas for additional ones. NIH Community College Day. We showed up, became more enamored with the idea of doing research for a living, and ate sandwiches. Glorious. Of course, it was a little more complex than that. For me, it was an opportunity to listen to current researchers walk us through their day to day, and tell us which of the many paths brought them to the NIH. It was the tipping point for me. I’m currently a patient in a study at the NIH (I’ll explain), and the moment I set foot on campus for my very first screening I felt right at home. I texted my wife immediately, telling her that I had to work here as soon as possible. Even if it was sweeping floors. I mean, that’s kind of my job at home anyway. If sweeping gets my foot in the door at largest biomedical research agency in the world, hand me the broom. Thanks.

Seriously though, I felt a sense of belonging from the moment I pulled up. I’m heading in tomorrow for my “dosing day.” Long story short, I’ll be helping researchers test out treatments for Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS. I’m also just getting into an 11 week strength training program my old Muay Thai coach hooked me up with. He did some work back in the day with the Duquesne University (Pittsburgh stand up!) basketball team and had access to the football training programs too. He decided I should try the “Hogs” routine, designed specifically for the linemen. Now, I’m not a lineman. In fact, I’m having a hard time benching my own body weight. However, using my calculated 1 rep max weights for each exercise (shout out Professor Seed for that muscle fitness lab), I can plug in the information and do a skinny dude version of their workouts. Take that, ectomorphism! That’s a word, right?

So here I am, pretty sore, ready to hop into the NIH Clinical Center at 7 AM to be “infused” with antibodies derived from genetically modified cattle and then hit the Washington Sports Club in Silver Spring to make like a 10 year old lineman. Pretty cool, huh? It will be a 10 hour day, so I’ll have plenty of time to email a few professors from my hospital bed, asking them to sponsor me for the NIH’s CCSEP. (Community College Summer Enrichment Program). I’m already thinking about summer. I shouldn’t let myself forget that my wife turns 31 in about 23 minutes. Of course I have something planned. I can’t tell her because she’s so awesome that she thinks we should play it by ear because I’ll be getting dosed all day. I might feel a little out of sorts. I think I’ll pull through for her. It’s only right.

Raul

My name is Raul Torrento. I am a local, born in DC proper and raised in the area (Aspen Hill, Springfield, DC, Falls Church, Annandale). Music, gymnastic strength training, and Muay Thai are just a few things I enjoy. I also have a slackline and a skateboard. Those get used.

I am a lover of complete and total physical and mental exertion. Finding new ways to achieve that panting glory is what keeps me spry. Music is something I’ve always loved, since my hands first touched the congas at age 4. A father of three, I appreciate every little moment I remember to focus on – because they tend to pass by in a blur as a result of trying to keep up with them. I don’t take myself too seriously, instead I focus on the importance of my work – whether that’s practicing a tuck handstand, fine tuning an L-sit, finding a new groove on my bass, nailing a new recipe, or whipping up a classic cocktail for a complete stranger. Oh yeah – I’m a bartender too. More importantly, I am a student. Of everything. Forever.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Raul, you caught my eye with the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome! I had not heard of it and being of Middle Eastern descent, it made me curious. Thankful to find out it is mostly from camels! I have not been around any nor have I been to the Saudi Peninsula and don’t intend to! Brave you to be “infused” with antibodies or antibiotics or whatever you are getting; I hope you know what it is exactly! It’s amazing how a day can change your direction in life. Wishing you the best to get accepted to the CCSEP program!

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