What I want to be when I grow up.
I know I've briefly mentioned on here that I was thinking about going down the route of medical research, as opposed to my original plan of journalism. I was also considering simply combining the two and going straight into medical or science journalism. I pretty much came to the conclusion that I wanted to stay in school and do something in Biology, whether it be a full Bachelors or simply a minor (or even a non-degree).
So I spoke to my mom a bunch, as she works in a teaching hospital, and got her opinion. I looked up as much as possible about both medical research and medical journalism. I spoke to science and medical journalists, as well as doctors. I looked at requirements for Bio degrees in my school. The only thing I've yet to do is speak to an advisor, which I'll be doing very soon.
And after extensively looking through every field of medical research, speaking to researchers, journalists and doctors, I feel pretty confident that I want to go down the route of Immunology. It's a field that hits very close to home with me as I have an autoimmune disease, and the immune system is one facet of the human body that I find incredibly interesting. I've been doing my own research on the immune system for years, and while it's nowhere close to the type of research I'd be doing as an Immunologist, it's still something that's not only familiar but something that I absolutely adore looking into and learning about.
So, yeah. I want to do this. I'd have to graduate with my B.A. in English and Journalism, then stay for approximately another 2 years for a B.S. in Biology (assuming I enroll full-time. It's a 48-50 credit degree). Then it's off to a Masters program, and I've learned that New York (and specifically NYC) has a decent amount of great Masters programs for Immunology, which is fantastic!
Then there's another decision. From what I've gathered, some Immunologists are Ph.Ds while others are M.D.s, and many have both. My mom suggests I go down the M.D. route, while Consort (whose opinion I will accept as he is very much into science and works at NASA) suggested I go for a Ph.D. I know I wouldn't have to make this decision for at least another 4 years, but it's still something to think about.
I am a bit upset with myself, as I feel like I wasted 5 years on a degree I won't be using. Though, from what I've been told, the journalism/English degree isn't entirely useless in the field of medicine and research. Plus it's something I can use to get a decent job while I'm in school, which is good.
I haven't really shared this with anyone IRL except for my mom, Consort and one friend (who's in a physics field). I wonder what people will think. I've always been a writer, someone in the arts. Ever since I was little it's been assumed that I will have a career in writing. I've barely touched the sciences my whole life, and it's only through the forced core program at my school that I realized how much I love it.
It's interesting, really. I grew up in a family full of women. No one in my family is in any kind of science field, really (save for Queen Fluffybutt who works in a hospital). The arts have always been pushed on me. "Read more, write more, paint more, draw more. You're such a good artist. Don't worry about math and science, you'll never need it. You're going to be a writer one day." And it's only recently that I've realized that while, yes, I am a good writer and do enjoy it to a degree, it's not something I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to be a scientist. I simply wish I realized this sooner.
I feel like people will doubt me. They'll think it's a spur of the moment decision, or they'll think I'm not intelligent enough for it. I imagine my sister laughing it off, the same way she subtly laughed off my prospects of grad school. She never quite considered me to be intelligent, unfortunately. I wonder if anyone will be upset for my going back on my decision to go to grad school for journalism. I imagine at least one person will be.
You know, right before the breakup, I convinced myself that I'd be a journalist. I signed up for newsletters and workshops for J-Schools across NYC. I had everything planned out to be a journalist. And then everything got turned upside down. You would think I'd have found solace in writing and reading, but no. I found solace in going with my mom to work and talking to doctors and nurses about diseases, medicine and the human body. I found it in medical journals and science magazines and my biology textbook. I didn't want to touch any kind of journalism or creative writing. I didn't want to read or think or write about the arts. I submersed myself in anything medicine or science related and it was one of the only things that helped me become level-headed.
It's a long road, and a scary one. I'll probably be the oldest person in many of my classes. I'm a woman, and a writer. I'll be laughed at and dismissed. I'll have to work twice as hard to get anywhere. But that's ok.
Over the winter break, I'm going to set up some time with doctors and researchers at my mom's hospital. I don't need full internships, but I'd like to at least get a feel for the field. I'm unsure if any Immunologists work there, but I can still get to do some more extensive work with other researchers.
I'm excited, and I'm happy. For the first time in a long damn time, I'm not afraid to make a plan for my future.