I came into college knowing I wanted to go into medicine. People told me that if I didn’t want to be a biology major, I should major in engineering. I was smart enough, and engineers command a high level of respect in the Georgia Tech culture. One problem: I didn’t want to be an engineer. I became an HTS major, where we would address questions of poverty, crime, healthcare, and other big issues that I felt it was irresponsible to ignore. I felt it would give me an interesting additional perspective through which I could better relate to and treat patients.
I was later vindicated by the addition of social determinants of health to the MCAT, which reflects a growing emphasis in the medical field in understanding patients in the entirety of their life experiences and cultural baggage. I’m proud of the choice I made, and I know I will be a better practitioner for it.
I went on the German Language for Business and Technology (LBAT) study abroad program with Dr. Bettina Cothran. My German was sufficient, but studying the language didn’t expose me to the cultural touchstones. Every German knows about Tagesschau, Struwwelpeter, and the life story of Goethe, but any casual references to these pieces of shared knowledge would go right over my head. When I returned to the U.S., I started to consider the shared knowledge of Americans — from the fable of George Washington cutting down his father’s cherry tree and saying “I cannot tell a lie” to Dr. Seuss books. I learned a lot about German culture on my study abroad, but I also discovered a new way of looking at the American culture I took for granted.
Be proud of your major. You are intelligent. You are talented. And your major is a worthwhile one. As long as you love what you’re doing, you’re in the right field. Make connections, build your resume, and make a realistic and concrete plan for your after-college life. If you do this, you can combine your passion for your major with your desire for a successful career.
I will spend the next year and a half as either a certified nursing assistant or a medical assistant. After completing my assistantship and taking the GRE, I plan to attend physician assistant school. I expect to matriculate in August of 2016.
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