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choosing a major

I just about shocked everyone when I, as a junior in high school taking excess honors and college credit English and Spanish courses, said that I was going to major in biology. A few people laughed. A few people thought I was crazy. And some thought I’d never make it through.

And now, it’s just over two months until I receive my BS degree in biotechnology and physiology.

Biology wasn’t always easy for me. There were days that I considered quitting. There were days when I literally fell asleep in my textbooks. There were days when I thought I’d never be able to understand the mind-blowing concepts or work independently in a lab. Now, however, I’m technically finished with all of my biology course requirements, and I’m proving to myself a little at a time that I can work independently in a laboratory setting because, well, I am working in one for half of the work week. Don’t get me wrong – there are still days that I come home wondering if I’ll ever be able to “make it big” and leave my mark on science – but I’m realizing that making that bold decision to major in biology was well worth it.

What advice would I give someone who is thinking about going into biology? In short, biology isn’t just a program or a degree – it truly is a way of life. If you’re interested in learning about the inner workings of life, if you choose to study biology, and if you’re anything like me, your life will be made so much fuller by studying biology.

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Since my very first blog two and a half years ago, I’ve been talking about the facts that I’m majoring in biology and that I want to pursue a career in biomedical research. However, it recently occurred to me that I’ve never actually explained how I got into this major.

If you would’ve told me that I’d be a biology major when I was a freshman, sophomore, or even a fall-semester junior in high school, I would’ve told you that you were crazy. In high school, I loved English, Spanish, and communication classes. I took as many honors and college credit English and Spanish classes as I could. I remember loving my sophomore-level biology course; however, I had that purely American stereotype of science: if you go into science, you’re going to be a doctor. Since I can’t stand the sight of blood coming out of a human body, I thought that science was a field I’d never enter.

During my junior year of high school, I took an honors chemistry course. As it turned out, I was pretty good balancing chemical equations and performing titrations in lab. However, I still had that American stereotype of science. I did NOT want to be a doctor.

Then, right around Halloween of my junior year, my chemistry teacher took us on a field trip to the Science Center for SciFest, an event during which scientists from around the globe gave presentations on all aspects of science. I saw a presentation about the manufacturing of medicine that was given by a local pharmaceutical company. The entire time, I was fascinated by the entire process of bettering people’s lives by bettering the medicines that they take. A few months later, when I got serious about looking for colleges, I looked not for English and communication programs but for biology programs.

There are definitely days when I wonder what my life would be like if I’d never gone to SciFest and see that presentation that inspired me to completely change my mind about the field that I wanted to go into. I think about what it would be like to study British literature instead of the relatively-high rates of genetic HIV resistance found in Northern Europeans. But then I think about how blessed I am. I think about how I’ll be able to change the world by helping to advance our knowledge of medical treatments and cures, and I think about my work at the Science Center and about the potential I have to inspire younger generations to go into science due to my presence there.

All in all, I guess you could say that life is a full-circle trip. Do I actually know where I’ll end up? Definitely not. But I’m excited to find out.

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I want to first begin this blog by saying that this post is long overdue. It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged on here…busy schedules and the hustle and bustle of college life can take over. However, it’s nice to be blogging again. It also helps that Spring Break has already begun!

Now, to explain how I ended up where I am today in my studies…

If you’d like to know how I ended up at Fontbonne University, feel free to read my past blog post on my personal story here: http://blog.fontbonne.edu/2011/03/choose-fontbonne-fontbonne-chose/.

As far as how I ended up choosing Speech Language Pathology as my major is a slightly different story. (You can learn more about the major here: http://www.fontbonne.edu/academics/undergraduate/departments/communicationdisordersdeafeducation/speechlanguagepathology/.) It all started in high school, during that period of time where I was being pressured to start having my future plans all mapped out. Trust me; my path to “Speech Path.” was not as straightforward as one might think. I contemplated all sorts of careers/majors. At the beginning of high school, I had wanted to major in Engineering, but that quickly changed after a year or so. Then, for the longest time, I had my heart set on working in Music Business/Communications, but later reconsidered that decision. If anything, I knew that I wanted my future career to be involved with a good cause and that my career would positively impact society/the world as a whole. Non-Profit Organizational work or Environmental Studies were also on my radar.  Speech Language Pathology didn’t come in until my Junior/Senior year in high school, when I was on the Willowbrook High School Speech Team. Little did I know that this decision would affect my entire decision on a major.

Now, I should probably give a shout-out to my Dad, who had A LOT to do with my major decision. Since I had been so involved with Speech Team, my Dad thought it would be a good idea for me to look into “Speech” Language Pathology as a career. I had been absolutely AGAINST going into Speech Language Pathology, since that was what my Dad wanted for me and not what I actually wanted. However, looking at things from a realistic perspective, Speech Language Pathology made sense, because it’s a field that is fairly high in demand and the job security is supposed to be good. Plus, if I wanted to work in a school setting, I’d be able to have something similar to a teacher’s schedule; there were even various other settings I could be in as well. Therefore, it was difficult for me to argue against it, since a stable job is important to me.

Of course, since I’m currently a Junior at Fontbonne now and looking into Graduate Schools/My Post-Undergraduate Plans, it’s normal to doubt myself in making the right decision. I’m really looking forward to doing Pre-Clinic next semester to get a taste of what being a Speech Language Pathologist is like, since classes and schoolwork can sometimes make me dread the major (I’m the kind of person who likes to be out in the world doing proactive things and not just sitting in a classroom). However, the great thing about Fontbonne is that there is an on-campus Speech Language and Hearing Clinic where Students are able to do observations and work in the clinic. AND there is both an Undergraduate Program and a Graduate Program for Speech Pathology here (a Graduate degree in Speech Pathology is needed in order to be a practicing/licensed Speech Pathologist).

At this current point, I’m looking into Audiology for Graduate school, which is related to Speech Pathology, but I’m still open to getting my Master’s Degree in Speech Pathology as well (it’s one of those ongoing stories/debates with myself that I’d rather not get into right now). However, only time will tell.

Peace, Love, and Spring Break!

I’ll leave you with a picture of people playing in the Medaille Meadow during one of the Fontbonne Spring Events…

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Howdy, readers!

I wanted to write a brief post about last week’s blog topic, choosing a major.

I had first approached this problem from the “Well, what subject do you like best in school?” angle, and that had initially led me to history.  I figured I could teach high school with it, and all would be well.  That was the plan – until I took “Intro to Classroom Teaching.”  I realized that as much as I like to think of myself as a patient person, I simply don’t have the attention span being a teacher requires.  That helped me realize I need a job that can keep me on my feet and moving around.

Up to this point, I had been working in the IT department at my high school (Rosati-Kain, if you’re curious).  When people asked where I worked, I would tell them and then bashfully add, “It doesn’t even feel like a job.” And I was serious. At first, I thought it didn’t feel like a job because I really liked my co-workers and former teachers, and I felt comfortable there, which certainly wouldn’t happen in my limited perception of a job. After failing at being a teacher, though, I rethought things. I realized that my part-time job doesn’t feel like a job because I genuinely enjoy what I do when I’m at work – fixing printers, crawling under desks to plug Ethernet cables back into their switches, rearranging wires in the server cabinet, installing wireless access points here and there, maintaining existing equipment, I could go on and on. The variety of tasks that I get presented with every day I go in keeps me interested and there’s a huge element of challenge that comes with the job.

So, to figure out what I need to major in in order to have get a job in an IT department, I looked at job-openings results on different Saint Louis companies’ websites to see what institutions look at when they’re hiring IT people. Generally, it’s some kind of computer-science or information-management degree, and I decided to go with computer science. I’m getting into some upper level classes now, and I really like what I’m learning.

My advice: Experiment to figure out what you like and what you don’t like. I was lucky enough to have taken that teacher course relatively early on in my time at Fontbonne, and it was a real wake-up call that I was headed in the wrong direction by pursuing teaching as a career. Experimenting as a worker in the IT department at my high school was a another message, one that helped me know I’m on the path to what I think will be an enjoyable career.

So, with that, I wish you good luck in picking a major!

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My Major

by Alumni Posts February 21, 2012

Figuring out what you want to do is always a tough decision. When I was a little girl I wanted to work at McDonald’s. Thankfully, your idea of a perfect job changes as you get older. Up until high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t even […]

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Why Deaf Education

by Alumni Posts February 20, 2012

“Why did you choose Deaf Education?” is the second most-asked question behind “what made you decide to go back to school?” Well I have always loved education, and years ago, I almost went back to school to be a teacher. The thing that stopped me however was the system of it all in terms of […]

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Fontbonne and Fashion, Like Peanut Butter and Jelly

by Conner February 16, 2012

One of the most important decisions you can make in your life is what you decide to study in college. This may be what one would think at the ripe old age of seventeen or eighteen, but in reality, it isn’t. Nevertheless, it is a choice that has to be made, and mine was particularly […]

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Students writing for Real Life at Fontbonne are paid a small fee for each post by the university.