My STEP project fell under the Service-Learning and Community Service. Over the summer I had the opportunity to volunteer as a teaching assistant for a Human Anatomy course, a valuable experience in the area that I want to build a career in. I also maintained a job as an Office Assistant and student taking summer classes while teaching and proctoring exams. I used my STEP money to pay for room and board in Siebert Hall so that I could spend my summer volunteering, gaining experience and networking, taking class and working as an Office Assistant in that residence hall.
While completing this project, I learned a lot about myself. After working with the course’s teacher, graduate teaching assistant and students, it became clear that I was on the wrong career path and I finally found what I really want to do for the rest of my life. Before this project, I was on a pre-med track and putting an immense amount of pressure on myself to maintain this track because it’s what I’ve always told people I wanted to do. I was no longer happy but couldn’t admit it because I felt like a failure. This project introduced me to a multitude of resources that showed me that just because I no longer wanted to be a doctor, there were still many ways that I could help people and stay in a field that I am interested in. I made the decision to drop my pre-med track and instead began making plans to attend graduate school in order to become a Nurse Practitioner. During the summer, I shared my concerns about my career path with the students and found that many of them were in the same place I was. Before coming to college, it is hard for graduating seniors to understand the multitude of different jobs that are available in healthcare because we have only ever discussed doctors and nurses. Having the opportunity to talk with people of similar age and interests as mine helped me come to the realization that my life goals no longer aligned with the pre-destined schedule of a medical student and later doctor. Not only did my students help me realize that I was not alone in my concerns, my graduate teaching assistant shared how she found her path with me. We had multiple talks before and after class and exams and she helped me realize that what I wanted from my career was still related to healthcare, just not on the path I was on. I am so thankful for this summer because it pushed me to question what I really wanted, finally leading me to find the track for me. I am so much more confident in my career path than I ever was while I was pre-med. I now feel that I will be able to help people heal in a setting that best utilizes my personal skills, all while being able to have time to raise a large family and live the kind of life I want. Without this project, I am certain that I would have come to this conclusion too late and would not be nearly as successful in school and life as I am today.
This pivotal decision would not have occurred without my STEP project. While completing this project, I met a lot of students that were interested in the same areas that I am interested in. They were key players in my decision because they taught me that there are so many more careers in medicine than just doctor or nurse. While I was always aware of this, I always thought that the avenues to get these careers were out of reach and obscure, but my students combined with the graduate teaching assistant I worked under encouraged me to talk to my academic advisor, who in turn helped me address my worries and figure out a career path I would be happy in. This summer forced me to take a hard look at my aspirations in life and how medical school, residency and later career as a doctor fit into this plan. I have always known I wanted to help people and have always had a love for science, but the students and my graduate teaching assistant offered alternative ways to get exactly what I want out of my career. Had I gone home this past summer and not stayed in Columbus volunteering in an area I have interest in, I would not have met people who encouraged me to consider different paths and to speak about my concerns with my counselor. I may not have changed post-graduate plans and could very well have been just as unhappy now as I was last year about my academics and life. The people I got to know this summer opened new doors for me that ultimately led me to path that I am in today.
As I’ve mentioned before, this summer was critical in my life because I found where I really wanted to be headed. Without this experience, I would most likely still be unhappy and constantly worried because I chose a track that I no longer felt successful in. Today, I am much happier and feel more confident than ever about my future. This decision has helped me rediscover my love for science, in turn improving my grades and confidence for my future. In addition to benefitting my overall career goals, my time spent as a teaching assistant was so invaluable because without it, I would not have gotten the position at the Wexner Center that I have now. Being a teaching assistant was a huge resume booster and has allowed me to gain an invaluable opportunity at the Wexner Center where I am networking with professional staff in the career field I hope to one day work in. I am now developing relationships with staff in the medical field while also developing critical professional skills that will give me an advantage over other candidates when applying for a job or graduate school. STEP has given me the freedom to build my professional skills, network with professionals, and most importantly, find the career path I truly want to be on. Without it, I would not be nearly as confident or happy in the decisions I have made and the outcomes that have come from it.