Besides the immense amount of training I have recieved this summer, I have learned a lot about what I want for myself in the future. This is in part due to the seminars that I have witnessed in the last two months. I had expected to learn skills and techniques used in molecualr biology research but I didn’t expect to completely change my goals for the next couple of years. Hearing about the multiple paths that some Duke’s accomplished faculty took to get to their careers and the things they had to overcome in life really helped me in understanding the role I wanted to play in research and in the science community. I found all of the seminars intriuging but I believe my favortite was Dr. Bob Levkovitz’s.
Honestly, I was able to pull messages from each faculty member, but Dr. Levkovitz was the most personable in my opinion. What stood out the most to me about him was that he was honest about some of the career decisions he made. For example, he said that he joined the yellow berets solely because he didn’t want to be sent into the Vietnam War to most likely die. Whereas, the nice answer would have been: “I joined the yellow berets because I wanted to use clinical expertise for a greater purpose.” I learned that some of my decisions in life may not all be based in selflessness and I may have to take actions to for myself one day. In addition, I appreciated that he had spoke with a concise attitude and didn’t “sugar coat” his advice. He talked about the changes in demographics at his school over time, how important the lab you work is and is minimal interest in research initially. It made me realize how vulnerable your goals are for the future. I may set a goal for myself today but as I’m progressing towards it or after I achieve, I may come to find I don’t actually want thing I was chasing. This scares me but at least I know this is a possibility and that I need to be prepared to be wrong.
This speaker was the last clue that I needed to truly figure out what I wanted to exactly. I am still a biology major so that hasn’t changed-if anything, I actually love Biology more because of this program. I realized that in terms of conducting research in the future, it doesn’t matter extensively if I pursue a MD or a PhD. Whether I pursue either one, my work life will be surround by people with varying degrees and level of expertise. These people will be there to bring new ideas and perspectives to the project. Most importantly, others will make up for the things you don’t know, so it isn’t imperative that you have a MD for clinical research or a PhD for general research. So in a way, you aren’t restricted no matter which path you choose. This was my main conscern in terms of figuring what I wanted to do with my life. In short, I am very greatful for these seminars.