The Road Not Taken, the One Taken, and the Process of Deciding Which One Was Which

    In 2016, one of our creators and lead designers (Jacob Stagray) attended LSUHSC-Shreveport to pursue his PhD in microbiology and immunology. After completing the vast majority of his coursework, he decided to take a brief hiatus to develop upon his teaching skills; while simultaneously continuing to further develop the game known as Evolution Through the Ages.

   During 2017-2018 academic calendar year, Jacob applied to the following universities in an attempt to complete the remainder of his required for completion of his PhD endeavors. He applied to the following universities:

  • Columbia University
  • Emory University
  • LSUHSC- New Orleans
  • Washington State University
  • Texas A&M – Houston
  • Vanderbilt University

    Although he was unable to successfully gain admittance for the Fall 2018 academic school year, he was interviewed with Texas A&M as well as LSUHSC-New Orleans

    With regards to Texas A&M (TAMHSC), the interview was conducted in two phases; both of which were conducted remotely via skype interview formatting. The first phase was conducted by Dr. Hook and Dr. Dave Reiner. The second phase of the interview was performed by Dr. Moczygemba.

    In a follow-up email requesting additional information about TAMHSC academic acceptance decision reasonings and factors, to be used for self-improvement; they stated they believed I was, “a bright and enthusiastic young man, and skilled at your work of teaching high school.”  

    They then went on to state, the major concern about accepting me into the program was presented from the first interview.   Dr. Hook was concerned I was merely attempting to complete my research PhD to procure a better teaching position. He went on to state, “there was consensus, but not unanimity, that you would be in a much stronger position had you been working as a lab technician, and from that position, with strong research recommendation in hand, applying to grad school after, say, two years. That is what admissions committees want to see from a person with your background”.  


    With regards to the LSUHSC-New Orleans; this interview was conducted from our New York vacation (04/2018). This interview consisted of a panel of five individuals from different research subdivisions within the department. The night before this interview had been somewhat personally traumatic; resulting in me not having adequate scheduled time the morning of the interview to review my notes on the individual faculty member’s research focuses.  

    During the interview, the questions of, “why did you select this university; who’s research areas are you interested in working within?” were presented.  When I was not able to successfully discuss the intricacies of any unique faculty members’ individual research, the panel became concerned about my intentions for entering into graduate school.  

    Additionally, the panel was also minorly concerned about my time commitment to their program; due to the current time periods infancy of Evolution Through the Ages, LLC. This concern was brought up despite my referenced actions to be enacted to help mitigate the company’s time requirements on me during my current PhD endeavors; through the use of delegation of tasks to other team members.


    In Fall 2019, I began working at Fontainebleau High School (FHS). While working at FHS, Jacob once again applied for admissions to graduate school for the 2019-2020 academic school year.  He applied to the following universities this round:

  • Columbia University
  • Emory University
  • LSUHSC- New Orleans
  • Texas A&M - Houston
  • University of Louisiana at Lafayette
  • University of Washington – Seattle

    Although several institutions were once again interested in my CV and application content, they stated that this year had been even more competitive for admission due to the incorporation of new national application software. Despite this fact, Jacob Stagray was recommended by Dr. Scott France, University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL), to contact several of the research faculty members to discuss the potential for entrance into their labs for the Fall 2019 academic semester. I reached out to two potential faculty mentors:  Dr. Baojin Ding and Dr. Francis Villinger. Both expressed an interest to have me in their labs for the upcoming school year.  

    I am writing this specific blog post to inform you that I have officially been offered acceptance into the Department of Biology at the Graduate School of ULL for the Fall 2019 academic semester. This offer comes additionally with the offering of a TA position with an annual salary and tuition/fees waiver.  As a result of being provided with this amazing opportunity, unfortunately I will no longer be able to return to FHS for the 2019-2020 academic school year. Additionally, while I am working at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, I will also be teaching one, or two, biology lab courses sections. I will also be working simultaneously under the research lab supervision of Dr. Baojin Ding

    Within Ding’s lab, I will be focused on working with Stem cells to re-program them into functional motor neurons; using continuous expression of activated transcription factors delivered by lentiviral vector.  These cell line models will potentially serve to allow additional characterization of neuronal dystrophic diseases; such as ALS and Huntington’s disease. I will also continue my work with advanced microscopes and biomedical techniques; in an attempt to characterize the mechanism for these nerve disease states progression.  

    If you are interested in learning more about the projects, I will be working more in-depth on, I have included the link to the lab’s research page.  His research focus areas and approaches are rather intriguing; if I do say so myself.

    I cannot begin to express my gratitude adequately enough for all of those individuals who have help me to succeed over the course of the past academic years.  I have continued to learn a lot about the field of teaching /collaborating, as well as more about myself as an individual, from my experiences and time spent as your colleague at FHS.  I am exceptionally grateful for your continuous guidance and comradery each of you have provided me throughout my continued professional development.  

    I will truly miss working at Fontainebleau High School, as well as seeing each my colleagues whom I have come to know and be fond of. They are truly an exceptional group of people/educators. Working at FHS was an amazing career opportunity for me, and I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to have met each and every one of the individuals I met at Fontainebleau High School.  

    Over the course of the month of May 2019, I began completing all of the required paperwork to be prepare for my pending beginning at the Evolutionary and Environmental Biology PhD program for Fall 2019. This process began by formally accepting the TA position for the Fall 2019/ Spring 2020 semesters ($17,000 annual income). Next, Devin and I scheduling of apartment vacation date (7/20/2019) for Ibis Trails apartments in Covington, LA. We subsequently scheduled a U-Haul truck for this date too transport our apartment possessions from Covington to Slidell, LA. We will be temporarily storing our household items from 07/20/2019 08/10/2019. At that time point, we will reload another U-Haul truck and begin our final trek towards Lafayette, LA.  

    During the intermittent time period, Devin and I will be rotating between his mother and my parents’ house. This is being done to allow for the saving of an extra month’s rent and teacher income; allowing for more available funds at the start of the graduate school time frame.

    While I am at graduate school, I will continue to interact with Evolution Through the Ages; although in a reduced faculty. I will continue to meet with Sean (Lead Programmer) to better establish our gaming product. These meetings will be conducted in person once a month in Slidell, LA. Between the occasional meetings, Sean and I will conduct necessary virtual meetings to discuss points of current matters for the company and game development.  

    Additionally, Devin Reeson (Current Social Media Director) will be stepping into the additional company roles of PrestaShop Operator and Chief Financial Officer (using QuickBooks). Devin taking over these roles will allow for the continued maintenance and improvement of the company, while I am heavily pre-occupied with my relevant graduate school coursework and research.  

    Let me once again stress, my return to graduate school will not hinder the continued development and progression of this company; or its gaming products. The real implications of this change will be in the re-allocating of company tasks towards other individuals; through the process of delegating corporate tasks. Our users do not need to fear the crumbling of our evolutionary company during these time periods. We look forward to continuing to serve you, and we hope that you have enjoyed this glimpse behind the personal vail of one of those behind the running of the company Evolution Through the Ages.


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