When people ask me what my major is, I’ve begun to hesitate when I answer the question. It’s not because I’m doubting my choice in the midst of a busy semester — far from it — but it’s because I’m beginning to wonder how to tackle the response I get when I reveal what I’m studying.
“Oh my goodness, why would you do that to yourself?” A quick shudder tends to run through the asker’s body and I smile politely, replying with a slightly defensive tone.
“I like it!”
I’ve written countless blogs on my attitude toward exams, how I’ve gotten through stressful times, and the countless activities with which I supplement my education here. After this week’s SAAB meeting, it dawned on me that I don’t think I’ve ever put in to words exactly why I’ve chosen one of Johns Hopkins’s most notoriously difficult majors. I’m not certain of what I want to do when I leave undergrad as far as careers go. I know that I’m going to an MD/PhD information session tonight, but I’m still not even sure that I’m pre-med, much less sure that I want to be a doctor somewhere down the line.
In any case, one thing I do know is that the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering department here can prepare me for anything that I want to spend the rest of my life doing. I’ve always been a chemistry nerd. I took two years of high school chemistry because I loved it so much, as did many of my ChemBE peers. Still, loving chemistry doesn’t justify my choice. Why not just be a chemistry major?
I want to make things. I want to take part in creating active, tangible things that can revolutionize medicine. I’m not planning on singlehandedly transforming the pharmaceutical industry, but I do plan on making my mark. The major I’ve chosen is arming me with the ability to answer the tough questions at every turn in the engineering process. There are classes to teach me how to bring materials from point A to point B, as well as classes teaching me how to separate the wanted materials from the unwanted ones, and all the while there are chemistry courses and labs encouraging me to think about these abstract ideas in a concrete setting.
At Hopkins, chemical engineering is special because it puts “and biomolecular” into the title of its major. That means that there are different tracks to follow, and I’ve chosen one that will hopefully prepare me for a future in drug delivery, pharmaceutical development, or the like. Others may be looking for careers in industry, oil, or marketing. ChemBE is a diverse major with countless avenues to choose.
The classes are more than just interesting; they’re dynamic and exciting, and no matter how difficult they are, I love every moment equally. Whether they’re filled with confusion, relief, or understanding, each day brings me closer to a clear decision on what I want to do with my life. I’m challenged here daily in ways that I could not possibly have imagined before I got here, but at this stage in my college career, I couldn’t fathom doing anything different.
So I might not have a crystal clear path yet, but I know I’m heading generally in the right direction. Simply put, I’m ChemBE because it feels right.