It was just after my freshman year when my response to the question ‘What do you want to do after college?’ became ‘I am planning on going to graduate school.’ As someone who has enjoyed school most of my life, I always had a feeling that I would pursue higher education after graduating from St. Lawrence with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. My exact plans on what kind of degree, what level of program, and desired location have changed like the North Country's seasons. I could not have made any of these important decisions without the support of St. Lawrence—specifically from the alumni network and my relationships with faculty mentors.
When I first became a student at St. Lawrence, I thought that my passion was rooted in neuroscience. I had aspirations of working in the biomedical engineering field on prosthetics. As the pandemic has taught us, we never know when plans change. I had no idea that taking an anthropology course called "Plagues and Peoples" would expose me to the first thing to change my mind: my interest in disease and epidemiology.
Throughout my three years as a student, I’ve realized that my courses have all been designed to promote critical thinking and educate students through a global lens. If it had not been for the liberal arts experience motivating me to broaden my academic interests, I would not have had the chance to uncover a passion that I hope I never let go of.
In the search for an answer to the question ‘What do you want to do after college?’ I reached out to the alumni network. Before coming to St. Lawrence, I always wondered what it meant that our alumni network has repeatedly been ranked number three in the nation by The Princeton Review. The best way to describe the intimidating word ‘network’ and ‘networking’ is simple; Laurentians want to help Laurentians.
I can say that I have received the warmest advice from a simple LinkedIn message. Connecting with recent graduates who have established a career in the fields of epidemiology and immunology has immensely aided in my search for the answer to my question. Furthermore, feeling such support from the alumni network has made me eager to someday be the one to help fellow Laurentians find their interests.
In addition to the warm welcome I received from the greater St. Lawrence community, it has truly been my faculty mentors who helped me to discover my own courage to pursue graduate education. As I have come to learn, it is not others who give you the strength to trust your own ability and promise. Discovering your academic passion requires faith in yourself, but it's important to embrace the helping hands of those who believe in you. In my St. Lawrence experience, I have watched my peers find a faculty mentor the way I have. Through my mentorship with Jaclyn TeRiele, Karin Heckman, and Ernesto Moralez, I have forged my intrigue of the biology of disease and my passion for global health.
Personally, I do not feel I would have experienced the growth and discovery I have in the last three years anywhere besides St. Lawrence. I feel I finally have an answer to the question ‘What do you want to do after college?’ and that is because of the role St. Lawrence has played in those plans. I can confidently say that I am passionate about studying the disproportionate effects of infectious diseases on countries that lack access to treatment and knowledge. Whether I pursue that passion by finding a novel treatment in the lab, serving as a public health professional, or inspiring others as an educator, I have found graduate programs that can aid me in my next set of discoveries.
When entering St. Lawrence after high school, I did not have an answer to the question of what I'd like to do after graduating. Programs like the First-Year Program (FYP) and Laurentians In Networking Careers (LINC) have helped me develop my sense of identity as a student, citizen, and individual. My classroom experiences and work with faculty have given me opportunities to conduct my own research finding novel antibiotics for multi-drug-resistant pathogens. I hope that, in writing this blog, I can give incoming students a reason to breathe. It is okay not to know the answer to that question quite yet. St. Lawrence has a way of helping you answer it in your own time.