Though it is a simple, six-word question, the phrase “What are you going to do?” is enough to send most college students coiling back in fear.

In reality, this is just the grown-up version of, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” though the growing-up aspect of the inquiry has suddenly become too close for comfort.

This has been a question I’ve struggled with for most of my nineteen-and-a-half year existence.

My first dream job was to be a cashier, though I quickly began to dream bigger and set my sights on being a pop star. I think from there, I decided to be a teacher, then an architect, followed by an Imagineer at Disney and forensic scientist.


If LIzzie McGuire can do it, so can I

Sometime in high school, probably around sophomore year and the beginning of the “college talk”, I began to seriously consider ~doing science~ for a career.

Teacher Pointing at Map of World ca. 2002

You can call me Ms. JHU_Emily


Highlight of my childhood may have been meeting an Imagineer; no photoshop required


-cue theme music-


The thing is, ~science~ isn’t exactly a concrete career path. While I loved learning about DNA, enzymes, and the fact that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, I didn’t know where to go from there.


JHU_Emily, Architect

During junior year, I landed upon Biomedical Engineering as a potential college major. “Great! I’ve figured it out! Finally I have a life plan! I’m going to be a Biomedical Engineer,” I excitedly exclaimed to myself. I had dreams of growing organs a-la-Cristina Yang, curing diseases, and playing with stem cells for the rest of my days.


I’m Merideth’s person

When I arrived at Hopkins two years later, this idea was stuck in my head. I decided, rather stubbornly, that it was Cell Tissue or Bust, without really giving any consideration to the other focus areas of my major.

Somewhere along the way last year, I decided that I was pre-Med, even though I never had any desire to be a practicing physician. Then, with my natural propensity to dream big, I set my sights for an MD PhD, all with my original goal from high school in mind.

During the past few weeks, I’ve been having the Pre-Med or not to Pre-Med debate in my head, unsure of what is really for me. I’ve started working in a lab on campus, a stepping-stone to my long-dreamed career of Research Scientist. While I do love research and think it is important and interesting, I realized that it was not exactly what I wanted anymore.

My design team from last semester is continuing our project and is collectively taking a business class at the Medical Campus. Doing this has helped me elucidate what exactly I see myself doing for the rest of my life, and it is most certainly not the MD PhD track I had once believed.

Right now, I’m thinking about a concentration in Sensors and Instrumentation and potentially graduate school for Public Health, in order to ultimately solve the issue of technology not meeting the needs of the population that needs it.

Or at least that’s my current plan. This may change, seeing as I’m not even halfway done with my time at Hopkins. Who knows? Maybe I’ll end up realizing my childhood dream of bagging your groceries?


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