Whenever I engaged in a discussion about my major choice, people assumed that I was planning to attend law school or become a professor. I, however, first dreamt of becoming a physician when I was very young. An English major is not the typical choice when discussing pre-medical studies but, then again, my academic journey was not a typical one.
I was raised to believe that everything I attempted was possible, that all of my talents were important, and that I should use all of these talents to improve the world that we live in. These three truths have given me strength on my journey thus far. The two loves of my life have always been medicine and literature. I once wrote a poem entitled “Healer” that depicts my life plan; “I will heal with my hands and I will heal with my words.”
I have always had faith in the power, even the healing power, of words, for it was the prospect of being able to heal and ease someone else’s pain that first drew me to medicine. Already have I expressed my appreciation for my upbringing, but on a deeper level, […] I realize just how important empathy, humanness, and love are when dealing with people, their illnesses, and their pain. So while I was focused on becoming a physician, I was drawn to major in English Literature from the very start, noting the emphasis not only on writing skills but on communication skills as well. My love of literature also stems from the fact that the study of it delves into the importance of close reading and objective analytics, skills that are useful in any occupation.
At the tender age of seventeen, however, after listening to the advice of others who were wary of me losing sight of my childhood dream, I entered college with a Biomedical Science major, and so, for the first two years of my undergraduate studies, I was surrounded by other earnest pre-meds who thought that science was the only road to medicine. I will admit that I enjoyed my major, especially falling in love with Genetics. I learned a great deal and was given many opportunities because of it, but I knew that I had lost a part of myself when I shunned my second love.
So, in my fifth semester I decided that I could not give up completely on literature and the power of words. I reclaimed the notion that everything I attempted was possible and promised myself that I would achieve all of my goals despite what others think or say. In the spring semester of my junior year I began working on my English major and was, somehow, still able to graduate in four years.
I will not pretend that my major change came without challenges, but I believe that everything I experienced was necessary to make me who I am today. I am not a rebel or anarchist as some assume. I am more than a scientist; I am a scientist who has an immense interest in Genetics and Hematology. I am more than a writer; I have written and edited over one hundred short stories and poems and seen two published. I am a person.
My interests stretch through a wide range of activities from writing, performing spoken word, working with soup kitchens in inner city and rural areas, playing in a drum-line, tutoring, and conducting research. I realize that I am not one but all of these things. It amazes me how something as simple as a major change can open one’s eyes to the other aspects, or layers, that make her who she is. There are those who question my desire to become a medical doctor because of the field of study I selected, but to the inquiring minds I say that I have never been more sure of my drive for medicine than I am now. I know what I was placed on this Earth to do and I will strive forward. My journey has made me stronger, wiser, and more able to understand the journeys of others, with their personal struggles and pain.
Recognizing my own humanness within the past few years of my life has allowed me to understand my fellow man. Everyone that I come in contact with is a person first, not a teacher, not a lawyer, not a nurse, and definitely not a patient. He or she is a person, with many layers, and should be treated as such. I only hope to keep this mindset throughout the rest of my life. If I do this, there is no doubt in my mind that I will be on the road to becoming the best person and physician possible.
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