Type of Project: Creative and Artistic Endeavor
- Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.
My STEP Signature Project was to travel to India to learn more about integrated and complementary medicine, specifically Ayurveda. Following the explorative portion of the trip, I was to write a photojournalistic book regarding my discoveries about Ayurveda.
- What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.
Liberation and Perspective. Two years of non-stop classes and relentless pursuit of better grades had skewed my view of my community, my passion, and myself. I had forgotten the things that were most important to me and I had allowed myself to become cynical and lethargic. I had lost motivation to continue the path that I was following, and I had begun to assign quitting as a temporary solution to all of my problems. This is what college had done to me, or rather what I had allowed it to do to me. I had closed myself off from the world of passion, wonderment, and accomplishment. Liberation and perspective is what I found in the midst of this project.
This project gave me an opportunity to look beyond the boundaries of college and dream grander. Traveling to India and experiencing the culture and learning about Ayurveda hands-on brought me to realize why I wanted to be a doctor all along and reignited the passion that had been extinguished by the rat-race of college. Talking to the patients and their families, scrubbing into surgeries, having discussions with physicians regarding my project and its contents jolted me back into life once more. With a camera at hand, a passion filled & open mind, and a thirst for knowledge, I found clarity in my understanding of my community, in my life goals, and ultimately my love of medicine.
- What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.
Traveling with the sole purpose of exploration and the overall growth of my understanding of medicine allowed me to concentrate on my immediate goals and rather ignore the looming challenges that lied ahead once I returned to college. Having the opportunity to mingle with doctors, surgeons, patients, and everyone in between brought back my passion to join the healthcare system. Speaking to patients and learning of their ordeals, provided me a rare glimpse into the lives of others—some more unfortunate than I. For instance, I met a family in which all but one member of the family, an eight year-old boy, had been diagnosed with cancer as well as early stage Alzheimer’s disease. Having both a disease that requires regular care, chemotherapy or radiation, and a disorder that deteriorates their memory meant that the family had a very high mortality rate. Through this rare and regrettable prognosis, I had the chance to learn and experience first-hand the detailed facts of patient care—from the treatment options given by the doctors to the projected time the family had to get their affairs in order before their illnesses got any more severe—as well as what the doctors could do to help the family beyond just the treatment, for instance, specific advanced directives. Experiencing such inopportune conditions gave me a chance to reevaluate my own life and more importantly it revived my passion for medicine that had been lost amongst my daily college life.
When I was traveling to Alva’s Medical College, I had imagined that being in the operating room and living through surgeries would be eye-opening experience and would aid me in my quest for knowledge. In actuality, however, it did so much more. Being in the operating room made me understand the intricacies of healthcare, the importance of all the members of the surgical team, the significance of the acute administration of medicines, the weight of unacknowledged time, the unrecorded & unyielding passion of medicine, and the cultural significance of healthcare. Not only did the surgeons and doctors teach me their livelihoods, but they allowed me to question and challenge their methods, and most importantly, in the process gave me the freedom to peruse and better my understanding of my passion–medicine.
On the flight back to the US, I realized that I was going to miss being in the operating room for many hours in a day, I was going to miss the doctors that I discussed medical cases with, I was going to miss the patients that I conversed with, I was going to miss seeing families overcome with happiness after a successful surgery, and I was going to miss experiencing the sorrow when the surgical procedure failed; but, those same feelings of wanting to help patients, to learn from doctors, to cultivate & disseminate happiness, ignited in me a lifetime worth of passion for medicine, community, and perseverance. That sorrow and happiness allowed me to understand how I tolerate misfortune and delight, who I develop into in its wake and how, within it, I might uncover both the frightening and the extraordinary.
- Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.
The importance of regaining my love for medicine when I aspire to become a doctor is irrefutably vital. Academically, this project has given me a long-term source of motivation to excel in my studies as well as in my extracurricular activities. In fact, with this newly found perspective and clarity at the successful conclusion of this project, my views and opinions on learning have changed for the better. This project has changed me in the most personal ways; specifically, my personality and values have been positively augmented and I have found great success in active & hands-on learning. Learning, expression, and personal growth have, once again, become the foundations of my future ambitions. I have always been a dreamer, and lately achieving those dreams had become difficult, which had made me lose hope in dreaming. But alas, this project has restored in me the importance of dreaming and accomplishing those dreams. It is believed that “a dreamer can always remember the beginning of a dream and furthermore its original inspiration. True muse, then, is impossible to be faked.” This project is my true [re-]inspiration. It has [re-]inspired me to love medicine and to embrace the idea of dreaming and achieving a dream 12 years in the making, a dream to become a healthcare provider.