In 4 years…
For all of my dreamers out there — know that fulfilling your dreams is in your power and NO ONE else’s — know that college and graduate school are the time to look deep within and ask the difficult questions. Scary to think that these are the moments that your life and career are beginning; but exciting to see what all is ahead. So, I’ll give you the advice my dad always gave me: If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.
College was definitely no walk in the park for me. Most college students come in with a plan of what their desired future career looks like. For me; I had no clue. All I knew is that I liked certain subjects that came effortlessly to me, so thought I might as well pursue that, which just so happened to be Chemistry.
- At first, Chemistry was a breeze and I was able to skip class and lessons because I could learn it all on my own (* disclaimer: I DO NOT recommend doing this!!), but it only took a semester into my freshman year to soon learn that being a chemist was not exactly the career of choice I had envisioned for myself.
- Then came a switch to Political Science because I was enjoying American Government; who knew I guess I thought I wanted to be a lawyer or a senator at this point, but that vision was short-lived.
3. Next up was Art History — I had been passionate about art since my youth and thought “What the hell”.
4. Then came English — BY.FAR.MY.FAVORITE.MAJOR I had in college; since I had been a reader and an aspiring writer all through my life, this is the one I thought would make it for me. Here’s a little side story for you — For those of you that do not know, I had a teacher in high school that told me I would never graduate from college due to my poor writing skills. Instead of letting her negativity get me down, I used it as motivator to lift me up and prove her wrong. At this point in college, as an English major, this thought came back to my head and I would think to myself “Boy, if only they could see me now!”
5. I was still really interested in the sciences and was taking biology by my sophomore year in college — which you guessed it, like EVERY OTHER BIOLOGY major, I thought I would be some kind of doctor. I had been working with an Environmental Microbiology Lab at this point and really loved bench-science and was finally able to settle on Microbiology.
At this point, I was deep enough in my junior year in college that my parents sat me down and told me “You cannot stay in college forever — it’s time to find what your passion is and take the next step.” After some envisioning and researching, I had settled on pursuing a career in dentistry and finishing off my Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology.
At this point, I was studying for my Dental Admissions Test (DAT) & applying to dental school, so I was heart set on this UNTIL….
I took my first public health course in my senior year of college. Yep — that’s right; I was a senior in college, getting ready to step out into the professional world and I was yet again confused and captivated at the same time.
I sat down and truly asked myself “What are your next steps?” After some soul searching, I diverted my attention to applying to graduate school programs. I was late in the game, but that does not stop passion. *Words of Advice/Encouragement: If you are passionate about something, it’s never too late in life to pursue this.
The same could be said of graduate school and finding the right career, but I will say I was older, more mature, and much wiser at this point. Microbiology was my passion and I am able to proudly hold that degree. Public Health is also a passion and I am able to proudly hold and serve that degree to this day.
For all of my college and graduate students out there, here’s my advice for you.
Always challenge yourself to be curious and learn more about the worlds that you may not always be a part of. (i.e. Even though I graduated with a degree in Microbiology, immersing myself in other majors gave me a different perspective, knowledge basis, and appreciation for those industries, that I may not have had if I did not get out of my comfort zone.
Soul Searching — By far, the biggest and best advice I have been given and I will continue to give. My dad’s advice proved true here; finding my passion and continuing to strive in that direction allowed for me to succeed and love what I do for the communities that I serve.
Be Confident; No regrets — To this day, I hold no regrets for the path taken and the journey I have taken to sit where I am today. It has led me to wonderful mentors, friends, and colleagues.
Always be willing to share — Kindergarten taught us all that sharing is caring, so share and care for the next generation. Any lesson learned can benefit the next person and hold joy in your heart that you have aided in other’s successes as someone has and will aid to yours.
As school comes back into session for some, I hope you can take some of these lessons into the semester and find and follow your passions. I’m rooting for you!
With Love, Yas