Weeks likened that difficult first semester to drinking from a garden hose: there’s so much coming at everyone at once that they don’t know what to do with it all. Students must spend their nights memorizing that day’s material, because tomorrow will bring an entirely new set of information.
Weeks said there’s no amount of reading ahead that can prepare someone for it, and none of the students seemed to get an advantage from their previous educational experience. “I came in from an accounting background and a social work background, and there were other kids who came from biochemistry backgrounds,” he said. “It didn’t seem to matter.”
Weeks didn’t do well on his first couple of tests, and he worried that he might be asked to leave the program for being academically ineligible. He was able to turn the semester around after he realized that it was far more helpful to summarize everything being taught into simpler forms of information instead of trying to memorize every single thing that was taught that day.
“It’s not for the faint of heart, but I think most people can do it,” he said. “You just have to be ready for it.”
Even though he didn’t have the same energy as some of his younger classmates, Weeks had certain advantages over his class in that he had already gone through some of life’s important milestones. His finances were already in order, and he proposed to his then-girlfriend Elisabeth Bridgewater at the end of that harrowing first semester. The two were married in June 2011.
“In that respect, there [was] a lot less stress on me as an older student,” he said.
After graduation, they will move to Seattle. Asked how she might respond if her husband said he'd like to try for another career, Bridgewater answered quickly.
“No,” she said, and both she and Weeks laughed. “We have three careers to choose from. Let’s pick one.”