I honestly don’t know where I would be academically, socially, or emotionally without strong mentors in my life. With so many media outlets, educational opportunities, and social communities, it’s pretty easy to get lost trying to find your niche. I struggled with this my first few years of college, and even now, it’s intimidating trying to refine my academic interests when there are so many avenues to explore. However, having people in my life who have been in my position and gone through various trials to get where they are today has helped me find my own path. Sometimes I have a hard time knowing someone was mentoring me until I reflect back and see just how much they showed me the right ways to turn.
Like I said before, even as I wrap up the last of my collegiate endeavors, I still struggle to pinpoint exactly what the next few years have in store for me. Thankfully, my time here at UCI and the people I’ve worked with have been an awesome resource. Firstly, I’m extremely grateful that professors like Dr. Kuhlman are so willing to have students work with them and gain active experience in the research process. Without diving right into the thick of things, I would have no idea what research entails or just how much goes on behind the scenes. The amount of time and effort it takes to publish the papers I read for classes back at Michigan is INSANE. And while my exposure to this field has made me appreciate the process so much more, it’s also made me question whether I want to solely pursue a career in research, or if I would rather implement research into a career in a different way, one that doesn’t involve actually doing the studies. I’m starting to figure this out, and I’ve found that the best way to do that is just ask the people around me. The conversations I’ve had with Dr. Kuhlman have been invaluable, and the information I’ve gleaned from simply asking and listening is more than any Google search could give me.
Additionally, working with other people interested in various different career paths has also taught me a lot. For instance, one of my co-workers Emily is starting medical school next week. Even though I don’t necessarily want to go into medicine, Emily has nevertheless mentored me. Her journey to med school — from undergrad to a gap year to many different types of internships — has shown me that there is no rush to figure out exactly what you want to do. I feel like in today’s academic world, there is a lot of pressure to move quickly out of undergrad and earn another degree as soon as possible. However, meeting people like Emily has shown me that timetables in this industry are by no means set in stone, and it’s completely okay to take as many years as necessary to figure things out.
Overall, I think mentors are awesome. Especially when they’re as open and honest as possible, and are comfortable telling you the truths of their fields. Both Dr. Kuhlman and Emily have been great examples for me during my time here at UCI, and I’m excited to see how their advice will shape my future.
Side note: This week’s picture is of our cool lavender top blood tubes we use in the lab. We have hundreds, and they’re all crammed into tight boxes. I thought this picture somewhat represents my mind when I’m overwhelmed by the plethora of opportunities and choices.