Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The path of most resistance
Today on my very last day of graduate school I find myself reflecting on the incredible journey I have been on to get to this point. If you had told me eight years ago I would be getting a Master's degree in Science of all things, I would have laughed at you.
In 2002 I was an undergraduate at UCLA trying to switch to the drama major with dreams of being an actress. The problem was, I hated living in Los Angeles, I wasn't that good of an actor, and the pressure to fit into the standards set by the industry were pushing me down the road of an eating disorder. Around this time out of a quest to lose weight I read "Enter the Zone" the first in the Zone diet books, which Dr. Sears had written more for medical professionals than the general public. (I picked this book because I had read in a magazine that Jennifer Anniston was a devoted fan and who wouldn't want to look like her?) That book was a fairly technical look at biochemistry of food-- at least for a diet book. (Barry Sears being a biochemist). For the first time in my life I was FASCINATED by science, specifically the science of how food effects the body. Keep in mind to this point I had gone out of my way to avoid science classes in college-- I took Astronomy and Biology for non-majors. But something clicked for me in reading that mass-marketed diet book. The longer I lived in LA the more I realized I would be miserable pursuing the acting dream and the chance of success was one in a million. I began considering alternate career paths, and eventually I walked away from the theater department to finish my degree in Philosophy-- mainly because I could graduate two quarters sooner. Marc and I moved back to Seattle in 2003 and after a year of re-establishing Washington state residency I began considering my options.
I really wanted to study nutrition, but the volume of chemistry prerequisites was daunting. I looked into nursing and started taking prerequisites for a Master's in Nursing to become a Nurse Practitioner. Two courses in I began doing some job shadowing of nurses and realized my heart still lay in nutrition, and even though it would take me over a year of chemistry classes, that was really what I wanted. And so I began the first of my five quarters of chemistry, working full-time and taking chem classes at night. It was hellish. I spent every free moment studying and found that science did not come easily to me-- it was a constant struggle. I remember one especially terrible Organic Chem final where I walked out of the exam and burst into tears-- it was like that nightmare where you get to a test and realize you don't know anything on it. By some miracle I passed even that course and was able to apply to Bastyr.
The past two years have been the most academically challenging, frustrating, exhausting, fun, and amazing time of my life. There were some classes I hated every second of, and others that I loved. The internship drama was definitely a blow to my self-confidence. But most of all I have loved dearly the wonderful friends I have made at Bastyr. For the first time in years I found a group of people where I felt I really belonged. As we finished our last exam today we lingered in the hallway together, not quite ready to part. Many people were rejoicing-- I am not yet to that place. I am very relieved not to have to memorize formulas for tube feeding or write fictional grant proposals anymore, but I can't help but be a little sad that I will no longer see my friends every day. Many of them are leaving within the week, scattering across the country to their new lives and new adventures. Graduation is often bittersweet, and certainly I feel that today.
Tomorrow I will welcome my classmates to my house as we celebrate our tremendous accomplishment and I promise by then I'll be in a party mood.