Baudin, Haiti – August 2017
In the summer following my high school graduation I traveled to Haiti as part of a medical mission trip. I signed up for the trip when I was planning to pursue a pre-med track during my undergraduate career. Before taking part in this trip I decided I no longer wanted to study medicine, but I was unsure what academic path I would take. Throughout the trip I struggled because I sometimes felt the work we were doing could potentially cause more harm than good. I was afraid we were contributing to a problem of dependence rather than encouraging the Haitians towards independence. I shared these concerns with my cousin one night while lying on the roof of an old school building and watching the stars. I told him I wanted to know the work I was doing while involved in mission trips would outlast mine time spent as a volunteer. He suggested I look into engineering, a STEM discipline where I could both manage and contribute to sustainability projects in the United States and abroad. We spent hours talking about his undergraduate career studying Mechanical Engineering, his favorite and least favorite classes, and how he hopes to use his degree in the future. I was encouraged by his advice and finally felt I had found a direction for my studies. Initially I signed up to go to Haiti because of my interest in medicine, but now the mountains will always remind me why I want to become an engineer.