First Semester Freshman: Finding Clarity with a Major Academic Shift

By: Jordana Bell

There is one statement that I could confidently attest to: finding your professional path is a journey. 

While I am currently still a Freshman and have a little vocational experience, it is difficult to not share my 180 degree turn of academia. 

Before I got to college, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I had my academic itinerary locked up: calculus, biology, physics, computer science and organic chemistry. 

Credit: Pinterest

As a behavioral neuroscience major and computer science engineering minor, I was prepared for a life devoted to building my stem portfolio.

Throughout high school, I was an avid participant in the medical community. I was a pediatric emergency room volunteer, vice president of future nurses and physicians club and president of medical science research. 

My resume had become my identity, yet the truth was that I was a reluctant pre-med. 

Denying my hesitation, I proceeded to my first week of classes where I received over 20 assignments consisting of labs, exams, textbook readings and problem sets. While the actual work wasn’t a problem, I became consumed with content that I truthfully did not enjoy. 

After two weeks of what I thought to be my future, I found myself in a very vulnerable and empty place, devoid of enjoyment and a sense of purpose. I was undeniably confused and at an educational crossroads. 

Hitting this turning point forced me to reflect on my medical motivation. One thing my parents had always told me was that finding happiness in your work is more important than many give credit for. They would say “you have to be the one to love your job because you have to wake up every morning and go to work.” 

However, my hopes and dreams were also at constant conflict with one another. As many can testify, one day my dream would be to create a chemical composition helping cure cancer, and another day it would be to build a fashion empire from scratch. 

This is when I came to realize that being passionate about something does not necessarily mean it is suited for you. 

Credit: Pinterest

As I have always been passionate about medicine, working with children, and making a tangible difference, I couldn’t ignore this nagging feeling of hesitancy. 

Looking back, I was more connected to the idea of success than I was to the career itself. I was set on ideals that being a respected female was limited to careers that required years of schooling and a rigorous education. 

Being a well-respected and successful female was my dream, and it took me a while before I realized that it was the idea of being a doctor or computer scientist that excited me rather than the career itself. Constantly looking for academic validation, I looked to the future wanting to see a place for my female presence in life-changing medical discoveries. 

Simply, I wanted to be a successful female in a non-traditional way, breaking barriers in male-dominated fields. 

Once I identified my pre-med motivation, I realized that purely a title was not enough stamina for four years of medical school, residency, fellowship, and ultimately the rest of my life. 

I continued to cling to this idea of female success and ultimately found it in my innocent roots. Uncorrupted by the cruelty of the world and predispositions of successful yet smart women, at my core, creativity was my passion. 

Finally, I was being honest with myself and began to act upon it. I went to career and academic services and came out two hours later with a new future. 

My schedule metamorphosed into one I had only secretly fantasized about. Chemistry, biology, and calculus became art and digital design.  

This then overflowed into a passion for journalism. I came to realize that literacy was its own form of art, and that my words could connect to thousands, just as I had hoped for in my medical career.

Credit: Pinterest

But isn’t this what college is all about? It’s okay to not know who you are. It’s okay to wake up in the morning, wanting to reinvent yourself. It’s okay to say “I was wrong.” Changing your mind does not mean changing who you are. 

Just because I decided that medicine wasn’t the right path for me, doesn’t mean that I won’t continue to work with children, make a name for myself, or be a successful, educated female. 

The moral of the story is that we are more than the sheet of paper that we will receive at the end of our educational experience. 

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